by Brendan M. Lynch | December 01, 2005

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Steven Hacker of IAEM

A newly passed law in California meant to limit fax transmissions sent without permission has rankled many in the meetings industry. “California may be ‘terminating’ itself as a place open to new business development following the signing into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger of the anti-fax legislation,” declared Steven Hacker, CAE, president of the Dallas-based International Association for Exhibition Management.
    The measure, which takes effect on Jan. 1, allows recipients of unwanted faxes to sue senders for $500 for each transmission and encourages courts to triple damages if the violation was “willful.”
    California State Senator Debra Brown (D-Redondo Beach), sponsor of the law, declared junk faxing as “one of those things that annoys the daylights out of people and small businesses” and said the measure was meant to bolster a recent federal ban that she deemed too weak.
    Nevertheless, in addition to IAEM, groups such as the American Society of Association Executives and The Center for Association Leadership have joined a “fax ban coalition” against the measure.
    “The California law prohibits fax transmission without prior consent, regardless of established business relationships,” said a spokesperson for ASAE & The Center. “While there is limited exception for faxes sent by professional and trade associations, many have protested the new law on behalf of members.”
    “There are annual, biannual and quadrennial trade shows,” said Jade West, senior vice president, government relations, for Washington, D.C.’s National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. “With personnel changing, if you needed verbal advance permission to fax, it would be impossible to do under California law.”
    At press time, the coalition was considering a lawsuit and planned to petition the Federal Communications Commission for a ruling that would preempt state fax statutes.