On April 4th, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order on Establishing the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector. The Executive Order essentially formalizes the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC” or “Commission”) existing “Team Telecom” review process by establishing the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector (“Committee”), with one notable exception: for the first time, Team Telecom reviews will occur subject to a defined and limited timeframe of 120 days (with the possibility of 90 additional days), as further explained below. These timeframes are slightly lengthier than the review periods recently established by the Department of Treasury for reviews conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”). Continue Reading
Amidst the ongoing power struggle between communications service providers striving for unfettered access to rights-of-way to place their facilities, and municipalities working to protect their authority over such rights-of-way, local governments retained a measure of control over the deployment of wireless equipment in their rights-of-way when the California Supreme Court held that municipalities may consider aesthetics when granting wireless installation permits. Continue Reading
Providers of broadband communications services and infrastructure, owners of residential and commercial multitenant buildings such as apartment buildings, office buildings, and shopping centers (multitenant environments or “MTEs”), and broadband consumers in MTEs, are weighing in on various questions posed in the Federal Communications Commission’s recent multitenant NPRM. See Improving Competitive Broadband Access to Multiple Tenant Environments, GN Dkt. No. 17-142, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Declaratory Ruling, FCC 19-65 (July 12, 2019) (“NPRM”), available at https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-19-65A1.pdf. Continue Reading
- Technology Infrastructure and Data. CFIUS will focus its review on investments in critical Technology, critical Infrastructure, and sensitive personal Data (“TID Businesses”).
- Critical technologies is defined to include certain items subject to export controls along with emerging and foundational technologies under the Export Control Reform Act of 2018.
- CFIUS provides a very helpful list of critical infrastructure and functions to help assess whether any business is a TID Business. We reproduce most of this list at the end of this blog article. (Sneak preview: telecom, utilities, energy, and transportation dominate the list.)
- The proposed regulations provide much-needed guidance on what constitutes sensitive personal data and also seek to limit the reach of the definition so it does not cast too wide a net over transactions in which CFIUS really should have no national security concern.
- Exceptions for Certain Countries. Investors from certain countries may be excepted from CFIUS jurisdiction when making non-controlling investments.
- New Set of Rules for Real Estate. In a companion piece, CFIUS proposed for the first time a detailed set of rules related to investments in real estate. We will cover this in a separate blog article to be published in the near future.
- Expansion of Short-Form Declaration Use. The proposed rules provide parties the choice to use a short-form declaration for any transaction under CFIUS jurisdiction in lieu of a long-form notice.
- Comments Due by October 17, 2019. Members of the public may submit comments on the proposed regulations any time between now and October 17, 2019. Final regulations must be adopted by CFIUS and become effective no later than February 13, 2020.
A recent decision by the Eleventh Circuit will make it more difficult for plaintiffs to establish standing to sue under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). In Salcedo v. Hanna, et al., Case No. 17-14077, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 25967 (11th Cir. Aug. 28, 2019), the Eleventh Circuit ruled that a single text message did not cause sufficient harm to sue in federal court. As a result, “single text message” TCPA cases may be a thing of the past, at least in the federal courts across the three States in the Eleventh Circuit (Florida, Georgia, and Alabama). However, given conflict with a ruling by the Ninth Circuit, the issue may now be ripe for decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Continue Reading
In accordance with Section 889(a)(1)(A) of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (Pub. L. No. 115-232) (the “2019 NDAA”), which required imposition of broad restrictions on procurements involving certain Chinese telecommunications hardware manufacturers such as Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp within one year, the FAR Council has released an interim rule implementing these restrictions. Today, the FAR Council released Federal Acquisition Circular 2019-05 (84 Fed. Reg. 40,216), creating a new FAR Subpart 4.21, as well as two new contract clauses, FAR 52.204-24 and 52.204-25, all of which are effective August 13, 2019. These restrictions apply not only to prime contractors, but also to all subcontractors and throughout the supply chain. Government contractors need to know that these new requirements are effective immediately and that opportunities for waivers are very limited. Continue Reading
On Thursday, August 1, 2019, the FCC took several actions to address persistent, decades-long efforts by local governments to convert their control over local rights-of-way into ever-increasing revenue streams from cable operators and other communications companies relying on those critical corridors for the provision of electronic communications. The FCC clarified that:
- Federal law and FCC regulations preempt any state or local action of a cable operator’s non-cable services (e.g., voice, broadband, wireless) that imposes obligations on franchised cable operators beyond what the Communications Act allows;
- In-kind grants of equipment and capital items must be calculated as an offset to the Cable Act’s 5% cap on franchise fees payable to local franchising authorities (“LFAs”), with limited statutory exceptions for costs associated with Public Educational and Governmental (“PEG”) channels;
- LFA demands that cable operators renounce or waive federal limits on local oversight of cable are unlawful; and
- Federal protections apply to state-level franchising authorities as well as to local governments.
Maine entered the privacy fray last week when Governor Janet T. Mills signed legislation targeting internet service providers by prohibiting the sale of information about customers’ internet use. The new restriction covers, in part, customer web browsing history, application usage history, and geolocation information. An internet service provider may only use, disclose, sell or permit access to such information with either the customer’s consent or by complying with one of the few outlined exceptions in the statute. Continue Reading
On March 8, the U.S. government signaled regulatory changes that may create new opportunities for international collaboration on satellite development, global sales of satellite and launch equipment, and even sharing launch technology.
. . . and the Government wants you to weigh in. Continue Reading
On Friday, February 1, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held a marathon oral argument in Mozilla Corp. v. FCC, No. 18-1051 (D.C. Cir. Feb. 22, 2018), in which various petitioners challenged the Federal Communications Commission’s (“Commission’s”) 2018 Restoring Internet Freedom Order (“2018 Order”). Continue Reading