US junk fax war hots up
Fax.com gets litigious with stroppy faxees
In a audacious move which is probably best filed under "you must be joking", California junk fax outfit Fax.com has filed a lawsuit against individuals who sued the paper spammers for sending them unsolicited junk faxes, The Orange County Register reports.
The suit, filed with the Orange County Superior Court, names 13 individuals, including Propel Software CEO Steve Kirsch. In 2002, Kirsch initiated a $2.2 trillion dollar class action lawsuit against Fax.com and started a website dedicated to putting an end to junk faxes.
Kirsch claims that Fax.com didn't remove his phone number when asked, "even after I got a confirming email from them saying I was removed". The Fax.com lawsuit, however, alleges that Kirsch's site constitutes an "unauthorized practice of law" and accuses him of conspiring to encourage consumers to file frivolous lawsuits to "vex and annoy" the company.
Kirsch, however, may get some help from regulators. Earlier this year the FTC fined Fax.com $5.4m for sending unsolicited advertisements via fax machines, the biggest penalty ever imposed for such a violation. On more than 400 occasions the company violated regulations which forbid companies from sending junk faxes.
A couple of weeks ago Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter joined California officials in a federal lawsuit seeking an injunction against Fax.com. Carter believes the company's practices violate the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to enforce a new rule by the beginning of January, which would virtually end the practice of sending unsolicited junk faxes. From next year businesses in the US are only allowed to send faxes if there is an established business relationship. Companies such as Fax.com would have to get written permission before sending a fax.
The National Federation of Independent Businesses isn't too thrilled about the new rule. They say it would add a lot of compliance costs, paperwork and record-keeping.