On October 6, 2016, Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) Chairman Tom Wheeler published a blog entry on the Commission’s website outlining proposed privacy rules for broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The proposed rules are scheduled to be considered by the full Commission at its monthly meeting on October 27, 2016. These rules come after the Commission received substantial public comment on its March notice of proposed rulemaking (discussed in an earlier blog post) from stakeholders representing consumer, public interest, industry, academics, and other government entities including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The proposed rules appear to soften several elements of the Commission’s initial proposal, which received considerable industry criticism.

Continue Reading FCC Chairman Outlines Proposal for New Broadband Privacy Rules

On June 14, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s or Commission’s) 2015 Open Internet Order (2015 Open Internet Order), which classified broadband Internet access service (BIAS) as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and imposed a

iStock_000008141839LargeIn a 2-1 decision, the D.C. Circuit’s Court of Appeals upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC or Commission) 2015 Open Internet rules, which reclassified Broadband Internet Access Services (BIAS), including mobile broadband, as telecommunications services subject to Title II common carrier regulations, as well as its rules against blocking, throttling, paid prioritization and enhanced transparency.

At its open meeting on March 31, 2016 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) voted along party lines (3-2) to adopt a Lifeline Modernization Order implementing significant changes to the Lifeline Universal Service Program, the most significant of which is an expansion of the program to cover broadband service. Last week, the Commission released the text of the Order, and on Friday we released a client advisory that provides a summary of the Order’s key changes and effective dates.

Continue Reading Client Advisory: Lifeline Modernization and Transition from Voice to Broadband

4YFN 2015Communications Chair and Partner, John J. Heitmann will be speaking at “4 Years From Now” during Mobile World Congress, an annual event with over 80,00 attendees.
Continue Reading John Heitmann Speaks at Mobile World Congress – 4 Years From Now on March 3 at 2 PM CET

On October 28, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) announced that it had joined the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (“GPEN”), a network of privacy enforcement and regulatory bodies from around the world that engages in collaboration and coordination on cross-border privacy enforcement actions.


Continue Reading Federal Communications Commission Announces Membership in Global Privacy Enforcement Network

On October 24, the FCC, over the dissent of its two Republican commissioners, issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) proposing a fine of $10 million to Lifeline eligible telecommunications carriers (“ETCs”) TerraCom, Inc. and YourTel America, Inc. for violations of laws protecting “phone customers’ personal information.”

This is the agency’s first data security case and the largest privacy action in the Commission’s history.  See News Release.  Friday’s decision follows through on numerous public statements made by FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc indicating that privacy and security is a high enforcement priority for the Commission and that the agency would begin to use a Communications Act provision barring unjust and unreasonable practices as a privacy and security enforcement tool.

According to the NAL, the Enforcement Bureau investigation found that both TerraCom and YourTel “collected names, addresses, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses and other proprietary information” gathered through the Lifeline eligibility approval process “and stored them on unprotected Internet servers that anyone in the world could access with a search engine and basic manipulation.”  The NAL states that the TerraCom and YourTel violations exposed more than 300,000 customers’ personal information to unauthorized access as well as heightened risk of fraud and identity theft. 
Continue Reading FCC Proposes $10 Million in Fines for Privacy and Data Security Violations

Yesterday, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (“Bureau”) released a Public Notice seeking comment by July 25, 2014, on Smith Bagley, Inc.’s (“SBI’s”) Petition for Partial Waiver (also attached) of the biennial audit requirement.  The final Audit Plan requires the auditor to randomly select one month during the audit period (2013) and up to three states

The Federal Communications Commission (the “Commission” or “FCC”) seems to be opening the spigot a bit on its extensive backlog of Telephone Consumer Protect Act (“TCPA”) petitions. On March 27, 2014, the Commission granted, in part, two petitions for declaratory ruling from the Cargo Airline Association (the “CAA Order”) and GroupMe, Inc./Skype Communications S.A.R.L.

Jameson Dempsey co-authored this blog post.

Hot on the heels of its recent lawsuit against Delta Airlines for alleged violations of the California Online Privacy Protection Act (“CalOPPA”), today the California Attorney General’s Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit released its highly anticipated mobile privacy report, Privacy on the Go: Recommendations for the Mobile Ecosystem. The report, developed in collaboration with a wide array of industry stakeholders, provides a series of specific recommendations designed to promote “surprise minimization” for users of mobile applications.

Continue Reading California AG Kamala Harris Releases Privacy Guidelines for Mobile Apps