On Tuesday, January 10, 2017, in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Jeff Sessions, (R., AL), the president-elect’s nominee to lead the Department of Justice (DOJ), said that he intends to follow the USA FREEDOM Act, which prohibits the National Security Agency (NSA) from bulk collection of phone records.  For more on

According to a Public Notice the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released today, on December 15, 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), has completed its review of the enhanced transparency rule from the 2015 Open Internet Order.

In the 2015 Order, the FCC adopted enhancements to the transparency rule, which covers both content

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At the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) Open Meeting on October 27, the Commission voted along party lines (3-2) to impose more stringent rules on broadband Internet service providers (“ISPs”). Chairman Tom Wheeler, along with Commissioners Rosenworcel and Clyburn voted in favor of the item, while Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly voted against it.

The new rules clarify the privacy requirements applicable to broadband ISPs pursuant to Section 222 of the Communications Act. The new rules also apply to voice services and treat call-detail records as “sensitive” in the context of voice services.

According to an FCC press release issued immediately after the meeting, these rules “establish a framework of customer consent required for ISPs to use and share their customers’ personal information that is calibrated to the sensitivity of the information.” The Commission further asserts that this approach is consistent with the existing privacy framework of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”).


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On Monday, May 23, 2016, the Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau (CGB or Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) released a Public Notice seeking comment on the state of compliance with the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) and the FCC regulations implementing the law.  The comments will be used to prepare the third biennial report to Congress on CVAA compliance.  The report will assess compliance by telecommunications carriers, VoIP providers, providers of advance communications services (ACS) and manufacturers of equipment for such services, including mobile phones.  More specifically, the Commission seeks comment from interested parties on whether the services and devices covered are “accessible,” the degree to which manufacturers and providers are including people with disabilities in product design and market research, and the extent to which entities are working with disability-related organizations, among other questions.  The report will also include the extent to which accessibility barriers remain with respect to new communication technologies and the impact of the recordkeeping and enforcement provisions on the development and deployment of new communications technologies.

Comments are due to the Bureau by June 22, 2016.  The Commission will use these comments to inform tentative findings, which will then be open for another round of public comment.  The report to Congress is due by October 8, 2016.
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) has long-required regulated telecommunications service providers (as well as VoIP providers) and equipment manufacturers to make their services and devices accessible to individuals with disabilities.  These entities also must annually certify to the FCC their compliance with the disabilities access requirements.  These compliance measures have become fairly routine for most regulated entities.  As of 2016, however, broadband Internet access service (BIAS) providers are now among those that must comply with disabilities access requirements, and the FCC has taken affirmative steps to remind these entities of their obligations under the Communications Act and Commission rules.


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It’s a new year and the FCC has just released its annual update to the FCC Form 499A.  Telecommunications providers must use the 2016 Form 499A to report calendar year 2015 revenues for purposes of calculating contributions to the federal Universal Service Fund and other revenue-based contribution requirements including TRS, LNP, NANP and annual

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On November 16, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reached a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in which the two agencies agreed to engage in greater coordination and collaboration on consumer protection issues, with greater respect for each agency’s jurisdiction. The MOU comes at a time when both agencies are seeking to position themselves as protectors of consumers in the digital economy.
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World Global ConnectionsOn October 1, Chairman Wheeler announced that he has circulated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking among his fellow Commissioners that would seek comment on simplifying the FCC’s foreign ownership approval process for broadcast licensees “by extending the streamlining rules and procedures that currently apply to other classes of licensees to broadcast licensees.” Certainly, the broadcasting community would welcome an updating of the filing and approval process to allow FCC review of applications to proceed on a more streamlined basis. But, unfortunately, FCC review is only part of the story when there is foreign ownership, and it is quite often the smaller part for many FCC authorization holders, which frustrates, at the end of the day, the Chairman’s goal of better adapting the filing and review process to the current business environment.

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4406623_illustrationOn June 30th, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s or the Commission’s) Enforcement Bureau (EB) reached a projected $3.2 million consent decree to resolve an investigation into whether TracFone, the nation’s largest prepaid wireless carrier, violated Commission rules related to its cellphone unlocking capabilities.  The FCC has estimated an aggregate consumer benefit of close to $80 million from this settlement, based on the requirement to make handsets unlockable and the average trade-in value of handsets that TracFone will have to replace (i.e., an estimated $10 benefit for each of TracFone’s 8 million customers that could benefit from the settlement).  This consent decree is unusual in that it does not include language admitting liability, which the EB has pushed for in other cases.  There is no explanation provided and no clear reason why this case differs from others where an admission was part of the settlement.
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iStock_000036215158LargeYesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Public Notice reminding telecommunications service providers, VoIP providers and advanced communications service (“ACS”) providers and equipment manufacturers of their obligation to maintain records of their efforts to implement accessibility requirements, and to annual certify their recordkeeping efforts. The April 1, 2015 filing will certify to compliance during 2014.
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