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It was heartening to see the report by Danny Freedman on the AP wire that the Federal Communications Commission had issued a record fine of nearly $5.4 million against a company for sending “junk faxes” to businesses and consumers.The fine was levied against fax.com, a company based in Aliso Viejo, California. It was the largest fine ever by the commission for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The law protects against unsolicited faxes, telemarketing calls and prerecorded messages.

Kathleen Q. Abernathy, an FCC commissioner, said in statement that “Fax.com appears to have founded its business on the practice of sending unsolicited faxes in flagrant violation” of the law.”Despite repeated warnings from the commission and numerous consumer complaints, the company appears to have made no effort to mend its ways.”

Mr. Freedman also reported that the fine is the FCC’s first against a company known as a “fax broadcaster.” According to the FCC, Fax.com sent advertisements and other messages on behalf of more than 100 businesses for a fee, sparking 489 violations. The FCC said it believes Fax.com “engaged in a pattern of deception to conceal its involvement in sending the prohibited faxes, and that the company has not been forthcoming in its dealings with the agency.”

A lawyer for Fax.com, Mary Ann Wymore, said the company feels the rules on unsolicited advertising are an unconstitutional restriction of its freedom of speech. “We are extremely disappointed in what the FCC did today,” she said. She further said that they plan to challenge it.” Ha. What planet is this company and this attorney living on?

The FCC is also issuing citations to more than 100 businesses that used Fax.com, warning that they too could be liable to pay the maximum fine if they continue to send unsolicited faxes.

This is the kind of enforcement we need against fraudulent junk mail. We don’t need new laws — we just need to enforce the ones we have. Government prosecution is but one of the elements of a multi-faceted solution to spam. We still need more aggressive action by ISPs, corporate email providers, and by consumers. Collectively we can rid ourselves of this huge annoyance and intrusion into our personal and business lives.