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Brian Weimer is a corporate partner in the firm's Washington, D.C. office and Leader of the firm's Communications Practice Group.

On October 13, 2021, William Shatner (aka, Captain Kirk from Star Trek) flew where few have gone before, taking a ten minute jaunt to the edge of outer space.  The successful flight comes on the heels of other highly-publicized, successful commercial space flights, including the September 15, 2021, SpaceX mission dubbed “Inspiration4” that made history as the first orbital spaceflight with no professional astronauts onboard.  As the era of commercial spaceflight draws ever closer, the space industry is building toward expanded commercial opportunities in space, including private space stations, space hotels, and colonies on the moon and Mars.  So now, as we stand on the precipice of the commercial space revolution, it is important to reflect on the regulatory “learning period” that enabled U.S. commercial space flight to reach this juncture and consider the timing and substance of the regulatory framework necessary to spur our next great leap forward.

Continue Reading Captain’s Blog: Fly Me To The Moon

Earlier this month, the FCC adopted a Report & Order (“R&O”) streamlining the application review process for transactions involving foreign investment or participation in U.S. telecommunications companies (commonly known as “Team Telecom” but also referred to as “the Committee” in the R&O).  Team Telecom is comprised of a committee of Executive Branch agencies (including the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice) tasked with assessing the national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, and trade policy concerns in these cross-border M&A transactions involving U.S. telecom companies.  The FCC issued the R&O to formalize a decades-long practice and update its rules governing Team Telecom review consistent with the President’s April 4, 2020 Executive Order No. 13913 (the “EO”).  The FCC builds upon the initial procedural requirements set by the EO to add certainty and transparency to the Team Telecom review process in a manner that protects national security interests without discouraging foreign investment.
Continue Reading Formalizing Team Telecom

The Takeaway: Severe restrictions on ByteDance’s Sale of TikTok should be a warning to media and tech companies with foreign ownership, particularly Chinese investment, to know your risks and mitigate them before the government comes knocking.
Continue Reading UPDATE: National Security Meets Teenage Dance Battles: U.S. Increases Pressure on ByteDance Sale of TikTok

On August 6, 2020, Trump issued two separate executive orders that will severely restrict TikTok and WeChat’s business in the United States.  For weeks, the media has reported on Trump’s desire to “ban” TikTok with speculation about the legal authority to do so.  We break down the impact of the Orders below.
Continue Reading National Security Meets Teenage Dance Battles: Trump Issues Executive Orders Impacting TikTok and WeChat Business in the U.S.

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”).[1]
Continue Reading Too Much Time on Their Hands – New Executive Order Limits Time Period for Team Telecom Reviews

Key Takeaways:

  • 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.)
      Continue Reading CFIUS Proposes Rules to Implement FIRRMA

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 Clear for More Takeoffs: Now is the Time to Have Your Voice Heard on New Satellite and Launch Regulations

  • On October 10, 2018, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States put into effect the first mandatory filing requirement ever imposed by CFIUS. The Department of Treasury’s summary of the Pilot Program is available here.
  • Effective November 10, 2018, CFIUS will require reviews of critical technology investments – including certain non-controlling investments – from any country.
  • A failure to file notice or a new short form declaration to CFIUS may result in a civil monetary penalty up to the value of the transaction.
  • The requirements will not apply to any transaction that is completed prior to November 10, 2018 or any transaction for which the material terms were established prior to October 11, 2018.

Background

On August 13, 2018, President Trump signed FIRRMA into law. FIRRMA is a transformational expansion of the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review certain transactions that previously eluded the Committee’s jurisdiction (discussed in our blog, here). Congress left many critical aspects of the FIRRMA framework to be addressed through regulations promulgated by the Department of Treasury. Although we do not expect final rules to be forthcoming until late 2019 or early 2020, Congress empowered the Department of Treasury to “test-drive” parts of FIRRMA through Pilot Programs. Those programs can be implemented simply, taking effect 30 days after publication of the program requirements in the Federal Register. The adoption and implementation of the Pilot Program for critical technologies represents the Department of Treasury’s first attempt to implement substantive parts of FIRRMA prior to issuing formal regulations.
Continue Reading FIRRMA Takes Form as CFIUS Enacts a New Pilot Program Targeting “Critical Technologies”

On September 4, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission issued a new rule requiring foreign media outlets to submit reports to the FCC disclosing their relationships with foreign principals. The notice was issued pursuant to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.[1]
Continue Reading FCC’s Foreign Media Reporting Requirements: Extension of FARA or New Domain?

On June 25, 2018, the Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) released an advance notice of rulemaking through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”). As an initial step before Commerce drafts proposed regulations and issues a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the notice seeks input from stakeholders on key issues relating to potential revisions to the regulations currently governing how NOAA[1] administers licensing for commercial remote sensing space systems. The last update to the relevant regulations was in 2006 and significant technological developments, new business models, and increased foreign competition require regulatory updates in order to facilitate continued growth and U.S. leadership in this industry.
Continue Reading Commerce Prioritizes Earth Selfies as It Seeks to Improve Remote Sensing Licensing

On March 16, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued its long awaited decision in ACA International v. FCC, in which a group of petitioners across a spectrum of industries sought review of various aspects of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) 2015 Omnibus Declaration Ruling and Order (2015 Order). The controversial 2015 Omnibus Order adopted further regulations to implement the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) – which was enacted more than twenty-five years ago to address certain issues with automated telemarketing calls.
Continue Reading Once Bitten, Twice Shy: FCC Revisits Its Telemarketing Regulations In Light Of The DC Circuit’s Decision Striking Down Core Requirements