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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20554
                                                            MAY 
31, 2001



Mr. Bernie Stevens                                  Mr. Bernie 
Stevens
Chief Executive Officer            Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Todd Pfister                        Mr. Todd Pfister
Chief Operating Officer            Chief Operating Officer
Ms. Sherry King                                       Ms. Sherry 
King
Independent Agent Network, Inc.            Independent Agent 
Network, Inc.
Route 327 Cedar Neck                             Route 7 & 
Bayservice Road, P.O. Box 1571
Oceanview, Delaware  19970                  Oceanview, Delaware  
19970

      RE:  EB-01-TC-020

Dear Correspondents: 

     This is an official CITATION, issued pursuant to section 
503(b)(5) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended 
(Communications Act), for possible violations of the Telephone 
Consumer Protection Act of 19911 (TCPA) and the Federal 
Communications Commission's rules that implement that Act.2

     It has come to our attention that your company recently 
transmitted to a telephone facsimile machine at the Federal 
Communications Commission an unsolicited advertisement for 
products, goods, or services offered by Best Telecom, Inc. (see 
attachment).  Pursuant to the TCPA and the Commission's Rules, it 
is unlawful to use a ``telephone facsimile machine, computer, or 
other device to send an unsolicited advertisement to a telephone 
facsimile machine.''3  The term ``unsolicited advertisement'' is 
defined in the TCPA and the Commission's rules as ``any material 
advertising the commercial availability or quality of any 
property, goods, or services which is transmitted to any person 
without that person's prior express invitation or permission.''4  
The Commission has specified that an established business 
relationship between a fax sender and recipient constitutes prior 
express invitation or permission to send a facsimile 
advertisement.5  Mere distribution or publication of a fax 
number, however, does not establish consent to receive 
advertisements by fax.6 
       
     Although entities that merely transmit facsimile messages on 
behalf of others are not liable for compliance with the 
prohibition on faxing unsolicited advertisements,7 the exemption 
from liability does not exist when a fax transmitter has ``'a 
high degree of involvement or actual notice of an illegal use and 
[has] fail[ed] to take steps to prevent such transmissions.'''8  
Accordingly, fax transmitters do not enjoy an absolute exemption 
from liability under the TCPA and the Commission's Rules. 

     This citation serves as notice that the unsolicited 
facsimile advertisements sent by Best Telecom, Inc. and 
transmitted by your company violate the TCPA and the Commission's 
Rules.  The Commission may assess to your company monetary 
forfeitures not to exceed $11,000 for each subsequent violation 
if (1) your company has been highly involved on behalf of the 
sender of any unsolicited facsimile advertisements, or (2) your 
company continues to transmit facsimile advertisements for Best 
Telecom, Inc. without taking steps to ensure that the sender has 
obtained permission from recipients to fax the advertisements.

     Pursuant to section 503(b)(5) of the Communications Act, you 
may request a personal interview at the Commission's Field Office 
nearest to your place of business.  The nearest office appears to 
be either the FCC's headquarters location at 445-12th Street, 
S.W., Washington, D.C.  20554 or the Columbia office 9200 Farm 
House Lane, Columbia, Maryland  21046.  You may contact the 
headquarters or Columbia locations by telephone at 202-418-7320 
or 301-725-1996, respectively.  You must schedule this interview 
to take place within 21 days of the date of this citation.  
Alternatively, you may submit a written statement to the 
following address within 21 days of the date of this citation:

               Kurt A. Schroeder
               Deputy Chief
               Telecommunications Consumers Division
                Enforcement Bureau
               Federal Communications Commission
               445 - 12th Street, S.W.
               Washington, D.C.  20554 

Please reference EB-01-TC-020 when corresponding with the 
Commission.

     If you choose to submit a written statement, you should 
discuss in detail your company's involvement in faxing 
advertisements on behalf of Best Telecom, Inc., including any 
specific arrangements under which you transmit their 
advertisements.  Please provide copies of any contracts or 
agreements that memorialize the terms and conditions under which 
you fax for Best Telecom, Inc.  You should also answer the 
following questions: 

     1.   Has your company had any control over or involvement in 
       determining the content of advertisements transmitted by 
       facsimile on behalf of Best Telecom, Inc. or any other 
       entities on whose behalf you transmit advertisements by 
       facsimile?  Please describe such control or involvement 
       in detail.  

     2.   Who provided, compiled, or generated the distribution 
       list(s) of telephone facsimile numbers that your company 
       has used to transmit advertisements on behalf of Best 
       Telecom, Inc. or any other entities on whose behalf you 
       transmit advertisements by facsimile?  

     3.   If your company has been involved in any way in 
       providing, compiling, generating, or editing the 
       distribution list(s) of telephone facsimile numbers that 
       your company has used to transmit advertisements on 
       behalf of Best Telecom, Inc. or any other entities on 
       whose behalf you transmit advertisements by facsimile, 
       describe in detail the process by which your company 
       produces or participates in the generation of such 
       list(s).  Does your company employ or compensate any 
       individuals or entities outside the company, including 
       any tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, for any service, 
       activity, assistance, or facilities used in connection 
       with your company's providing, compiling, generating, or 
       editing of such list(s)?  Please describe such 
       arrangements in detail. 

     4.   If your company has been involved in any way in 
       providing, compiling, generating, or editing the 
       distribution list(s) of telephone facsimile numbers that 
       your company has used to transmit advertisements on 
       behalf of Best Telecom, Inc. or any other entities on 
       whose behalf you transmit advertisements by facsimile, 
       what steps has your company taken to ensure that the 
       telephone facsimile numbers belong to individuals or 
       entities who have agreed, by explicit consent or by 
       virtue of an established business relationship with the 
       advertiser, to receive the advertisement?  Please 
       describe in detail the manner in which you record 
       consumers' consent or the existence of an established 
       business relationship and provide copies of any written 
       record-keeping policies with respect to maintaining 
       evidence of such consent or business relationship. 

     5.   Does your company advertise its fax transmittal 
       services, and, if so, by what means?  Please provide 
       copies of all print, audio, and video materials that have 
       been used within the past year to advertise your 
       company's fax transmittal services.  For each 
       advertisement, list the media in which the advertisement 
       appeared and the date(s) of such appearance(s).

     Under the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C.  552(a)(e)(3), we 
are informing you that the Commission's staff will use all 
relevant material information before it to determine what, if 
any, enforcement action is required to ensure your compliance 
with the TCPA and the Commission's rules.  This will include any 
information that you disclose in your interview or written 
statement.  Please be advised that if you choose not to respond 
to this citation and a Notice of Forfeiture is issued, your 
unresponsiveness will be considered in our assessment of a 
forfeiture amount.

     You should also be aware that the knowing and willful making 
of any false statement, or the concealment of any material fact, 
in reply to this citation is punishable by fine or imprisonment 
under 18 U.S.C.  1001.

     Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation.

                              Sincerely, 



                              Kurt A. Schroeder
                              Deputy Chief
                              Telecommunications Consumers 
                         Division
                              Enforcement Bureau
                              Federal Communications Commission

Enclosures

_________________________

1    Pub.L. No. 102-243, 105 Stat. 2394-2402 (1991) (codified at 
47 U.S.C.  227)  
2
     47 C.F.R.  64.1200.
 
3    47 U.S.C.  227(b)(1)(C); 47 C.F.R.  64.1200(a)(3).

4    47 U.S.C.  227(a)(4); 47 C.F.R.  64.1200(f)(5).
 
5    Rules and Regulations Implementing the Telephone Consumer 
Protection Act of 1991, Report and Order, 7 FCC Rcd 8752, 8779 n. 
87 (1992) (TCPA Report and Order); Rules and Regulations 
Implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, 
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 10 FCC Rcd 12391, 12408 (1995) 
(TCPA Memorandum Opinion and Order).
6
     TCPA Memorandum Opinion and Order, 10 FCC Rcd 12391, 12408. 

7    Id. at 12407. 

8    TCPA Report and Order, 7 FCC Rcd 8752, 8780 (1992) (quoting 
Use of Common Carriers, 2 FCC Rcd 2819, 2820 (1987).)