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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.
11/26/1991--Passed House amended. Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 - Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit any person within the United States from: (1) using an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) or an artificial or prerecorded voice (APV) to make a call to any emergency telephone line of a hospital, medical physician or service office, health care facility, poison control center, or fire protection or law enforcement agency; to the telphone line of any patient room of a hospital, health care facility, elderly home, or similar establishment; or to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or radio common carrier service or any other service for which the called party is charged for the call; (2) initiating any call to a residential telephone line using an APV to deliver a message without the consent of the called party, with specified exceptions; (3) using any telephone facsimile machine (FAX), computer, or other device to send an unsolicited advertisement to a FAX machine; or (4) using an ATDS in such a way that two or more telephone lines of a multi-line business are engaged simultaneously. Directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to prescribe regulations to implement such requirements. Requires the FCC to consider allowing businesses to avoid receiving calls made using an APV to which they have not consented. Authorizes the FCC to exempt from such requirements: (1) calls that are not made for a commercial purpose; and (2) categories of calls made for commercial purposes if such calls will not adversely affect privacy rights or do not include unsolicited advertisements. Authorizes private actions and the recovery of damages with respect to violations of such requirements. Directs the FCC to: (1) initiate a rulemaking proceeding concerning the need to protect residential telephone subscribers' privacy rights to avoid receiving telephone solicitations to which they object; and (2) prescribe regulations to implement methods and procedures for protecting such privacy rights without the imposition of any additional charge to telephone subscribers. States that such regulations may require the establishment and operation of a single national database to compile a list of telephone numbers of residential subscribers who object to receiving such solicitations, or to receiving certain classes or categories of solicitations, and to make the compiled list available for purchase. Outlines information to be included in such regulations if the FCC determines that such a database is required. Directs the FCC, it if determines that the national database is required, to: (1) consider the different needs of telemarketers conducting business on a national, State, or local level; (2) devleop a fee schedule for recouping the cost of such database that recognizes such difference; and (3) consider whether the needs of telemarketers operating on a local basis could be met through special markings of area white pages directories, and if such directories are needed as an adjunct to database lists prepared by area code and local exchange prefix. Authorizes private actions and the recovery of damages with respect to violations of such privacy rights. Makes it unlawful for any person within the United States to: (1) initiate any communication using a FAX or ATDS that does not comply with technical and procedural standards or to use such devices in a manner that does not comply with such standards; or (2) use a computer or other electronic device to send any message via FAX unless such person clearly marks on the document the date and time it is sent and identifies the entity sending the message and the telephone number of the sending machine or entity. Requires the FCC to revise the regulations setting technical and procedural standards for FAX machines to require any FAX machine manufactured one year after the enactment of this Act to clearly mark on a document the date and time it is sent and identify the entity sending the message and the telephone number of the sending machine or entity. Directs the FCC to prescribe technical and procedural standards for systems transmitting APV messages via telephone that require: (1) the messages to clearly state the identity and telephone number or address of the entity initiating the call; and (2) such systems to automatically release the called party's line within five seconds of the time the party has hung up. Provides that if the FCC requires the establishment of a database of telephone numbers of subscribers who object to receiving telephone solicitations, a State or local authority may not require the use of a database or listing system that excludes the part of the national database that relates to such State. Permits States to bring civil actions to enjoin calls to residents in violation of this Act and to recover monetary damages. Grants U.S. district courts exclusive jurisdiction over such actions. Prohibits a State, whenever the FCC has instituted a civil action for violation of this Act, from brining an action against any defendant named in the FCC's complaint. Declares that it shall be the policy of the FCC to ensure the placement of a principal community contour signal 24 hours a day for a licensee of an existing AM daytime-only radio station located in a community of over 100,000 that: (1) lacks a local full-time station licensed to the community; (2) is located within a Class I station primary service area; and (3) notifies the FCC that the licensee seeks to provide full-time service.