Thou shalt not

Last month, I opined about all the “do nots” entering our lives. Do not call, do not fax, do not Email. The do not call list is a done deal as of October even though learned authorities have said that recruiters are exempt because we’re “not trying to sell anything.” Maybe so, maybe not! Governmental dim bulbs are working on the SPAM law to attempt to prohibit us from that method of communication. The fax restrictions were up in limbo until I recently heard the latest from NAPS Legal Counsel Robert Style.

“FCC Regulations Require Written Permission to Send Faxes – The dying practice of sending unsolicited resumes or other information by fax to potential clients may have received its final push toward extinction in a recent action by the Federal Communications Commission.Since 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act has prohibited anyone from using ‘any telephone facsimile machine, computer, or other device to send an unsolicited advertisement to a telephone facsimile machine.’ While it is not crystal clear that an unsolicited resume meets the definition of an advertisement as ‘any material advertising the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods or services,’ it is at least quite likely that the Act’s prohibitions extend to unsolicited resumes.However, there has always been a regulatory exemption for companies with whom the recruiter has an ‘established business relationship.’ The FCC has allowed senders of faxes to assume that the established business relationship provides the requisite consent to receive faxes.Recently, however, the Commission announced that, “We now reverse our prior conclusion that an established business relationship provides companies with the necessary express permission to send faxes to their customers. As of the effective date of these rules, the [established business relationship] will no longer be sufficient to show that an individual or business has given their express permission to receive unsolicited facsimile advertisements.Therefore, beginning August 30, 2003, the effective date of the new FCC rules, those who send resumes or other advertisements by fax to anyone, even companies with whom they have an established business relationship, must receive the prior express written permission from the company for the recruiter to send faxes to that company. It will not be sufficient to send a notice to a client advising it that, unless the recruiter hears otherwise, the recruiter will assume the client has consented to the receipt of unsolicited faxes.The regulations do not apply to resumes sent by e-mail.”

Guess what’s next on the legislative ignoramuses’ platter? A Do Not Mail law. Yep, it’s in the mill as we speak. The $900 billion direct mail business is apoplectic over this as is the Postal Service who sees their market share shrinking by the minute. Bureaucratic busybodies may have gone a step too far, though. Knowledgeable industry leaders have said that mailing stuff is a constitutional right, not the grist for another ‘registry.’ Dick Goldsmith, President of The Horah Group has noted that you pay for your phone service, your fax machine and your Internet connection, but you don’t pay for your mail delivery. The Constitution says that there will be a postal service and it’s doubtful that anyone can deny access to that mailbox by the U. S. Postal Service as long as they have paid the postage.

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Paul Hawkinson is the editor of The Fordyce Letter, a publication for third-party recruiters that's part of ERE Media. He entered the personnel consulting industry in the late 1950's and began publishing for the industry in the 1970's. During his tenure as a practitioner, he personally billed over $5 million in both contingency and retainer assignments. He formed the Kimberly Organization and purchased The Fordyce Letter in 1980.


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