April 16, 2002
In a decision with implications for legislative efforts to limit junk email, a federal court declared unconstitutional the fedral law limiting "junk faxes." Ruling on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. 227, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri rejected arguments that unsolicited fax advertisements cause recipients to incur substantial printing costs and that fax ads prevent businesses and consumers from receiving other faxes. The Court also found that "there is no rationality behind the government's distinction between unsolicited advertisements and other unsolicited faxes," and therefore the ban on fax advertisements does not "directly advance" its goal of saving costs and freeing fax machines. The Court found that there were other less restrictive methods of dealing with these issues than a complete ban on unsolicited fax advertisements, such as requiring that fax advertisements include a toll-free number recipients can call to have their fax numbers deleted from fax lists.