On February 7, 2017, the Organizational Partners of the 3rd Generation Partnership (3GPP), a leading mobile standards body, released a new logo for use with products based on 5G specifications.  According to 3GPP, the logo will be available throughout various phases of development of 5G up through 2020, when the standard is scheduled for completion.

The 3GPP Organizational Partners are in agreement that the Project’s name and logos may be made available for use by manufacturers and service providers on a purely voluntary basis to declare that their products are based on the Project’s specifications.  In conjunction with release of the logo, 3GPP provides the terms of use and how to apply for permission to use its 5G logo:  http://www.3gpp.org/about-3gpp/legal-matters/logo-use.


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With class action cases proliferating, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) continues to receive petitions seeking guidance on the applicability of its rules to various calling or texting scenarios. In the latest example, the FCC issued a Public Notice seeking comment on a Petition for Declaratory Ruling filed by TextMe, Inc. (“TextMe”). TextMe provides a free

 In a move that appears aimed to maximize options for new Chairman Tom Wheeler when he assumes office, the FCC turned its attention again to its rules to address unauthorized charges on telephone bills, known colloquially as "cramming."  The FCC is asking parties to refresh the record in its docket considering rules for landline and mobile carriers to address cramming.  Parties are asked to address recent filings by state commissions seeking additional rules, particularly with respect to the extent to which cramming is a problem on wireless bills.  

The FCC has an inconsistent history in addressing cramming — it still does not have any required verification rules for placing charges on telephone bills, for example.  Yet the FCC has taken occasional enforcement actions, proposing significant fines or settling cases for significant amounts.  This public notice provides an opportunity for the FCC to clarify, for carriers and third-party providers alike, the extent of a service provider’s duties with respect to charges billed on telephone invoices.


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Jameson Dempsey co-authored this post.
In a ruling that FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai described as “a win for consumers and for innovative companies alike,” the FCC granted a petition for declaratory ruling filed by SoundBite Communications, Inc., finding that one-time text messages confirming a consumer’s request not to receive any future text messages do not violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (“TCPA”).  The Order represents a significant victory for mobile marketing firms like SoundBite and companies conducting mobile marketing, which have been inundated  with actual and threatened class action lawsuits over such confirmatory messages.

Although the ruling is an important victory, the FCC’s rationale for permitting the messages is relatively narrow and not all confirmatory messages will be permitted.  Moreover, the FCC’s ruling in effect imposes a requirement that confirmatory texts be sent within five minutes of the consumer’s opt-out request.  Companies engaging in mobile marketing should review their practices carefully before sending additional confirmatory text messages in reliance on the FCC’s ruling.
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In FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., the US Supreme Court reversed FCC indecency fines against two TV broadcast networks.   The decision has garnered a lot of attention in the broadcast industry and conventional media (and rightly so).   News stories describe the decision as a clear victory for broadcasters.  Many commentators also noted the apparently shaky ground of the 1978 Pacifica decision finding George Carlin’s “Filthy Words” monologue indecent.   (Including this decidedly non-legal discussion.) These are topics of great interest to the broadcast industry.

For all its significance in the broadcast world, the decision is equally significant for non-broadcasters.  In Fox Television, the Supreme Court sets a high bar for FCC enforcement of general obligations under the Communications Act, not just the FCC’s indecency standard.  As a result, Fox Television will constrain the FCC’s enforcement abilities in several prominent areas of common carrier regulation as well.  Most significantly, we believe that Fox Television limits the FCC’s ability to impose fines for violations of Section 201(b)’s prohibition on unjust and unreasonable practices.  Unless the FCC has provided fair notice to common carriers of the conduct required under Section 201(b), it may not impose sanctions in the enforcement context.


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Days before tomorrow’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Workshop on Mobile Disclosures, the FCC weighed in with a pair of releases on privacy and security issues raised by mobile devices.  In the first item released on Friday, the FCC is seeking to refresh its record regarding the privacy and data security practices of mobile wireless service providers in light of recent disclosures concerning software developed by CarrierIQ.  The FCC’s Public Notice seeks to update the record in a five-year-old rulemaking proceeding addressing carrier obligations in connection with devices that function on their networks.  In the second item released, the FCC released its staff report on location-based services (LBS).  Consistent with the approach of the Administration and the FTC (as was discussed at our 4th Annual Privacy Seminar), the FCC focused on ways carriers can protect information from misuse or mishandling, transparency in carrier disclosures and maximizing consumer choice in the use of LBS.

Collectively, the releases demonstrate that the FCC will continue to work cooperatively with the FTC and the Administration (including the NTIA) to address privacy issues in the mobile market. The FCC appears to believe it has sufficient statutory authority to act on mobile and device privacy, with its emphasis being on its jurisdiction over carrier practices in connection with both services and devices.

Josh Guyan contributed to this post.
 


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On February 16, 2012, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP hosted the seminar and audiocast, “Privacy in 2012: What to Watch Regarding COPPA, Mobile Apps, and Evolving Law Enforcement and Public Policy Trends.” The seminar highlighted regulatory and legislative developments in privacy and information security during the past year, with an emphasis on children’s online privacy

According to FierceWireless and other news sources, the wireless industry announced this morning an agreement with the FCC and consumer groups to provide free text alerts to consumers before they exceed their plan limits on voice minutes, text messages, data usage or international roaming.  The press release is available on the CTIA website here.  A good

Once again, USAC and the federal Universal Service Fund are driving fundamental classification questions regarding telecom services.  In the latest example, USAC has requested the FCC’s guidance on how to treat text messaging services for universal service purposes.  Several parties have tried before to have the FCC opine on the classification of text messaging services, with no luck so far.  Only time will tell whether USAC’s request will spur FCC action where others have failed.


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This order stands in stark contrast to the nominal CPNI settlements, odd refund provisions and low-ball forfeiture penalties we’ve discussed in this blog.  Today, the FCC announced an eye-popping $25 million settlement with Verizon Wireless in its investigation of Verizon’s unauthorized billing of wireless data charges.  The so-called "mystery fees" investigation stemmed from allegations that Verizon