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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iStock_000008141839LargeToday, the Federal Communications Commission released a Policy Statement announcing a “treble damages” methodology to assess forfeitures for failure to make payment to a series of federal programs, a move which the agency anticipates will allow it to begin “significantly more investigations.”    The new policy appears to allow the FCC to impose significantly larger fines than in similar investigations in the past, but may implicate the FCC’s statutory maximum forfeiture authority in some cases.
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stock_02042015_0367The annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held each year in early January, is a showcase for the latest gadgetry trends.  The recently-concluded CES 2015 featured innovation in a variety of forms, not the least of which are products with a health-related focus.  From the FitBit to track steps to the Quitbit to track progress in quitting smoking, the number of products recording consumer behavior continues to proliferate.  
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On November 12, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the implementation of electronic filing procedures for common carrier complaints and pole attachment complaints under Sections 208 and 224, respectively, of the Communications Act.

Literally years in the making, the change constitutes the FCC’s latest step in expanding electronic docketing and filing as well as electronic notification regarding developments in open proceedings. The new procedures increase the accessibility of documents to members of the public by making Section 208 and Section 224-related filings available for review online through the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System.


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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.


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The Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) moved a step closer last Friday to making effective changes adopted in 2011 and 2013 establishing revised international traffic and revenue as well as circuit capacity reporting requirements. As we reported in previous posts and advisories, changes include new reporting obligations for interconnected voice over Internet protocol (“VoIP”) providers and for certain non-common carriers (e.g., non-common carrier satellite operators and submarine cable landing licensees), among other modifications. In addition, affected providers will be required to use new reporting forms and follow new procedures.
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The Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC’s” or “Commission’s”) new text-to-911 rules are effective today. As we discussed in a previous post immediately following the adoption of the related order, the FCC has mandated that all messaging services that permit users to send text messages using domestic telephone numbers also enable users to communicate with public emergency response providers via text messages. The FCC adopted its Second Report and Order and Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Text-to-911 proceeding on August 8, 2014. On September 16, the order and NPRM were published in the Federal Register making the rules effective today and setting the comment deadline on the NPRM for today, with reply comments due on November 17.
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In August, the FCC adopted consent decrees with three companies (Border Media Business TrustTime Warner Cable, and ASUSTeK Computer Inc.) to resolve investigations into potential violations by each company of the Commission’s rules.  What makes these consent decrees noteworthy is the inclusion of new language and provisions not seen in settlements from prior years.  All three consent decrees include an admission of liability by the company and refer to the monetary payments the company will make as “civil fines” or “civil penalties” rather than “voluntary contributions.”  These changes may indicate a potentially significant shift in the Enforcement Bureau’s policy in resolving allegations of FCC rule violations.  If this indeed becomes Enforcement Bureau policy, it could make it significantly harder to resolve investigations through consent decrees, where often the primary benefit obtained by the regulated entity is a resolution without any findings of liability.
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On July 19th, the FCC Enforcement Bureau issued a an advisory to providers of long distance services reminding them that resolving rural call completion problems is a “top priority” of the Commission and of long distance carriers’ obligations to investigate and respond when served with an informal complaint by the FCC concerning rural call completion.


Last week, the FCC issued two Notices of Apparent Liability (“NALs”) against persons identified through various investigative techniques which the Commission concluded were operating unauthorized broadcast stations. Taken together, the cases illustrate, if not altogether clearly, how the Commission may increase forfeitures above the base amount as a result of aggravating circumstances. 

In the first case, Enforcement Bureau agents utilizing direction-findings techniques following a complaint – the nature of which is undisclosed in the NAL – found the location of an unauthorized station operating in Manhattan, Kansas. They determined the station signal exceeded the limits for operation under Part 15 of the Commission’s rules (general unlicensed operations) and therefore required a license. No license had been issued to any person at that location on the FM frequency being used. The following day, FCC agents confirmed the operation was continuing and visited the site. Further investigation led them to conclude that the equipment, located in a detached garage that was being rented, was owned and operated by a Glen RabashSpecifically, in subsequent communications with the FCC by telephone, Mr. Rabash acknowledged he was an amateur radio operator (which the FCC used to conclude he knew the broadcast operation was illegal) and that he would not surrender the equipment if asked to do so (which the FCC factored in to conclude that he had control over the equipment). Based in large part on this evidence of both repeated and willful violation, the FCC proposed the base amount forfeiture of $10,000 for unauthorized operation of a radio station. (Note that this is the base amount for unauthorized operation of any station of any type that requires an FCC authorization. The fact that the violation occurred on a broadcast frequency does not change the base amount.)

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