As the sun sets on 2015, but before it rises again in the New Year, we predict that, in the realm of cyber and data security, 2016 will become known as the “Rise of the Regulators.” Regulators across numerous industries and virtually all levels of government will be brandishing their cyber enforcement and regulatory badges and announcing: “We’re from the Government and we’re here to help.” Continue Reading
Last week, Congress reauthorized the Export-Import Bank of the United States as part of the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act,” a law funding new transportation infrastructure. The bill was signed into law on Dec. 4. EXIM Bank has been unable to lend to new projects since its charter expired on June 30 this year. The FAST Act reauthorizes it for four years – through Sept. 30, 2019 – and enables it to begin lending again. Continue Reading
After kicking open a door to potential annual pole attachment rental increases in the hundreds of millions of dollars when it adopted its February 2015 Net Neutrality order, the Federal Communications Commission yesterday released an order unanimously granting a four-year-old petition for reconsideration. A number of cable, broadband, and telecommunications industry players filed the petition to eliminate pole-attachment rate disparities and complexities between “rural” and “urban” areas and between and among various defined classes of electronic communication providers. Yesterday’s ruling eliminates remaining loopholes that could have dramatically raised cable operator pole rentals and electric-utility windfalls resulting from the FCC’s February 2015 Net Neutrality order (which we analyzed here) that defined “Broadband Internet Access Service” as a “telecommunications service.” Continue Reading
On May 20, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released an Enforcement Advisory notifying providers that the agency’s recent Open Internet Order “applies the core customer privacy protections of Section 222 of the Communications Act” – which requires that providers “shall only use, disclose, or permit access to individually identifiable customer proprietary network information” in the provision of services – to broadband Internet access providers. Accordingly, as of June 12, 2015, and absent a judicial stay order, broadband providers will be subject to expanded requirements aimed at protecting consumer privacy and restricting the use of customer data. Continue Reading
Last month, in Rinky Dink, Inc. v. Electronic Merchant Systems, et al., No 13-cv-01347, 2015 WL 778065 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 24, 2015), online voice and text provider CallFire became one of the first (if not the first) TCPA defendants to avoid liability for pre-recorded calls through the common carrier defense. Continue Reading
The FCC voted yesterday 3-2 along party lines to promulgate new rules necessary to protect the “Open Internet.” At the core of the Commission’s action lies its decision to reclassify Internet services as a “telecommunications” instead of “information” services and regulate the services under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This reclassification, led by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, expands the FCC’s regulation of fixed wireline and mobile broadband Internet services as “common carriers.” This move is grounded in the notion that control of the Internet is too important not to be regulated, and it marks a dramatic reversal in the way Internet services have historically been regulated. The FCC has not yet released the Order, but the FCC’s statement, remarks made by the Commissioners, and the Fact Sheet distributed by the Chairman’s office on February 4th reveal what appear to be the core elements of the Commission’s action. Continue Reading
On December 12, 2014, Judge Sue E. Myerscough issued an epic 238-page order granting in part and denying in part cross summary judgment motions filed in United States of America, et al. v. Dish Network, L.L.C. (“Dish Network”). United States v. Dish Network, L.L.C., No. 09-3073, 2014 WL 7013223 (C.D. Ill. Dec. 12, 2014). Despite finding that Dish was liable for over 50 million phone calls, there was a silver lining for both Dish and future TCPA defendants.
Although it could be said that the FCC’s recent focus has been firmly fixed on the future, in particular IP-based communications (see, e.g., high-visibility proceedings involving the Open Internet, possible merger conditions in the Time Warner Cable-Comcast merger, the ongoing TDM to IP transitions, and the $44 billion (and counting) of bidding in the AWS-3 auction), in November the FCC proposed regulations to ensure that the transition to this IP-based world does not betray core values of the Communications Act: public safety, consumer protection, and competition.
Historic changes in relations between the United States and Cuba (that touch nerves in Hip-Hop and on Capitol Hill) and new U.S. sanctions against Venezuela may provide increased opportunities for U.S. business generally, and electronic communications technologies and infrastructure providers in particular. This week’s Cuba and Venezuela headlines, combined with recent and historic shifts in telecommunications and broadcasting markets in Mexico, on which we reported here, herald historic changes in Latin American electronic communications and infrastructure markets.
The FCC recently slid up its chair to the fiscal feast that is cyber security and data breach regulation and took a hefty piece of the pie. In late October the FCC announced that it charged a record $10 million fine against two telecommunication companies after the telecoms reportedly posted the private information of nearly 300,000 people in a manner making the people eligible for identity theft. Taking a cue from the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), the FCC action was not based on any new set of concrete regulations or laws established to give organizations a minimum bar for data protection, but rather on existing FCC powers established under the Communications Act of 1934. The action serves as good warning not only to communications providers that the FCC will be examining data breaches and, more expressly, data storage issues, but also that in the absence of clear cybersecurity regulations, federal agencies will take an expansive view of their existing authority to address cybersecurity-related incidents involving companies subject to their jurisdiction.