Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed Senate amended (05/12/1998)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Slamming

Title II: Switchless Resellers

Title III: Spamming

Title IV: Miscellaneous Provisions

Anti-slamming Amendments Act - Title I: Slamming - Amends the Communications Act of 1934 (the Act) to prohibit a telecommunications carrier or a reseller of telecommunications services from submitting or executing a change in a subscriber's selection of a provider of telephone exchange service or toll service, except in accordance with this Act and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) verification procedures.

Requires a carrier or reseller, in order to verify a subscriber's selection of a telephone exchange or toll service provider, to require the subscriber to: (1) affirm that the subscriber is authorized to select the service provider for that telephone number; (2) acknowledge the type of service to be changed by the selection; (3) affirm the intent to select the service provider; (4) acknowledge that such selection will result in a change of service provider; and (5) provide any other such information the FCC considers appropriate for the subscriber's protection.

Requires FCC selection verification procedures to: (1) preclude the use of negative option marketing; (2) provide for a complete copy of verification of a change of provider in oral, written, or electronic form; (3) require the retention of such verification in a manner and form and for such time as the FCC considers appropriate; (4) mandate that verification occur in the same language as that in which the change was solicited; and (5) provide for verification to be made available to a subscriber on request.

Bars: (1) a carrier from being found in violation of this Act solely on the basis of a violation by an unaffiliated reseller of the carrier's service or facilities; and (2) the FCC from limiting or inhibiting a subscriber's ability to require that any change in the subscriber's choice of a provider not be affected unless the change is expressly and directly communicated by the subscriber to the existing provider.

Makes all of the above provisions inapplicable to providers of commercial mobile service.

Allows a subscriber whose provider is changed in violation of this Act to pay the former carrier or reseller for all services provided by the unauthorized carrier or reseller.

Requires a carrier or reseller selected by a subscriber to notify the subscriber in a specific and unambiguous writing, not more than 15 days after the change is processed by the carrier or reseller: (1) of the subscriber's new carrier or reseller; and (2) that the subscriber may request information regarding the date of the change and the individual authorizing the change.

Requires the FCC to: (1) prescribe a period not to exceed 120 days after receipt of notice of a complaint of an unauthorized change for the carrier or reseller to resolve such complaint; and (2) provide a simplified process for resolving such complaints. Authorizes the FCC if a violation of this Act is found to award damages of: (1) the greater amount of $500 or actual damages for each violation; or (2) three times such amount.

Prohibits any person or company convicted of such violations from participating in the provision of universal telecommunications service and related activities authorized under the Act. Authorizes reinstatement of such participation, but no earlier than five years after such prohibition, if found by the FCC to be in the public interest.

Provides penalties for violations of this Act and authorizes the FCC to collect forfeitures and damages.

Treats an initiation of service as a change in a subscriber's selection for purposes of this Act.

Sets forth criminal penalties of a fine and up to one year in prison for a first offense and up to five years in prison for a subsequent offense for a person who willfully submits or executes unauthorized changes in provider services.

Authorizes a State, when it has reason to believe that a carrier or reseller has or is engaged in a practice of changing service providers without subscriber authority, to bring: (1) an action on behalf of its residents to recover damages; (2) a criminal action to enforce this Act; and (3) an action for the assessment of civil penalties.

Gives Federal courts exclusive jurisdiction over such actions. Requires FCC notification of, and authorizes FCC intervention in, any such action.

Requires: (1) each carrier or reseller to report quarterly to the FCC on the number of complaints of unauthorized changes in provider services submitted to them by their subscribers; and (2) the FCC to use such information to identify carriers or resellers that engage in patterns and practices of unauthorized changes in provider services.

Requires the FCC to report to the Congress on unauthorized changes in subscribers' providers.

(Sec. 102) Allows a person's failure to pay a forfeiture imposed for violation of this Act to be used as a basis for revoking, denying, or limiting that person's operating authority.

(Sec. 103) Sets forth obligations of telephone billing agents (including carriers or resellers) regarding bills issued to a subscriber of provider services and prohibits such issuance if the agents knows, or should know, that such charges are unauthorized or are otherwise improper.

(Sec. 104) Grants the FCC jurisdiction to assess and recover penalties against a billing service provider (other than a carrier or reseller) only if such provider knowingly or willfully violates the provisions of this Act or any FCC rule or order.

(Sec. 105) Directs the FCC to issue a report on the telemarketing and other solicitation practices used by carriers or resellers to solicit changes by subscribers in their service providers. Authorizes the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to prohibit such particular practices it determines are being used with the intention to mislead, deceive, or confuse subscribers.

(Sec. 106) Requires disclosure of certain information to a Federal entity pertaining to a subscriber to, or a customer of, a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service regarding investigations of telemarketing fraud.

Title II: Switchless Resellers - Requires a telecommunications carrier operating or seeking to operate as a switchless reseller to furnish to the FCC a surety bond in a form and an amount determined by the FCC to be satisfactory for purposes of paying any: (1) fine or penalty imposed against the carrier for unauthorized changes in subscriber selections; (2) penalty imposed against the carrier regarding such operation; and (3) other fine, penalty, or forfeiture penalty imposed against the carrier under the Act.

Requires such reseller to designate a resident agent in the United States for receipt of service of judicial and administrative process if the reseller is not domiciled in the United States. Allows the FCC to suspend the right of the carrier to operate as a switchless reseller for violation of this Act and subjects the carrier to any forfeiture provided for under the Act.

Prohibits a common carrier or billing agent from providing billing services for unbonded switchless resellers or in the case of a reseller not domiciled in the United States who has not designated a resident agent. Imposes a civil penalty of up to $50,000 on knowing and willful violators.

Sets forth provisions regarding FCC review of surety bonds and their return to the carrier as a result of such review.

Precludes this Act from prohibiting the FCC from adopting rules providing for the permissive detariffing of long-distance telephone companies, if the Commission determines that such action would otherwise serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity.

Title III: Spamming - Requires a person who transmits an unsolicited commercial electronic mail message to include at the beginning of the body of the message: (1) the name, physical address, electronic mail address, and telephone number of the person who initiates transmission of the message or who created the content of it; and (2) a statement that further transmissions of such mail to the recipient by the person may be stopped at no cost to the recipient by sending a reply to the originating electronic mail address with the word "remove" in the subject line.

(Sec. 302) Empowers the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with regulatory authority over such unsolicited electronic mail, including authority to conduct investigations, commence civil actions against individuals, and impose fines, penalties, and injunctions. Requires the FTC to take appropriate action within two years after the transmission of such electronic mail.

(Sec. 303) Authorizes a State to bring a civil action on behalf of its residents against individuals or entities transmitting electronic mail in violation of this Act. Requires such State to notify the FTC of such action.

(Sec. 304) States that this Act shall not apply to an electronic mail transmission by an interactive computer service provider unless the provider initiates the transmission or the transmission is not made to its own customers.

Authorizes actions by such providers to enforce the sanctions under this Act. Requires such action within one year after receipt of the transmission.

(Sec. 305) Requires a person who receives from any other person an electronic mail message requesting the termination of further transmission of commercial electronic mail to cease such transmissions to the individual.

States that a person who secures a good or service from, or otherwise responds electronically to, an offer of unsolicited commercial electronic mail shall be deemed to have authorized such transmission.

Title IV: Miscellaneous Provisions - Allows a State or local government to enforce (FCC) regulations that prohibit: (1) a use of citizens band radio equipment not authorized by the FCC; or (2) the unauthorized operation of citizens band radio equipment on a frequency between 24 and 35 megahertz.

Provides that possession of a station license issued by the FCC in any radio service for the operation at issue shall preclude action by a State or local government.

Requires the FCC to provide technical guidance to State and local governments regarding the detection and determination of violations of such regulations.

Permits a person affected to submit to the FCC an appeal of the decision of a State or local government enforcing a regulation on the grounds that such entity acted outside the authority provided in this Act.

(Sec. 402) Allows persons not acting under the color of law to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication between a health insurance issuer or health plan and a subscriber of such issuer or plan, or between a health care provider and a patient, only if all of the parties to the communication give prior express consent to such interception.

Prohibits recording and monitoring of communications between customers and health insurance issuers, health plans, or health care providers without the consent of the customer.

(Sec. 403) Requires any telecommunications carrier that includes changes in bills resulting from Federal regulatory action to: (1) specify in such bills the reduction in charges or fees for each class of customers resulting from any FCC regulatory action; (2) specify total monthly charges, usage charges, percentage charges, and premiums for each class of customers; (3) notify consumers one billing cycle in advance of changes in existing charges or imposition of new charges; and (4) disclose, upon subscription, total monthly charges, usage charges, percentage charges, and premiums for each class of customers.