FCC Standardizes and Formalizes “Team Telecom” Review

Foreign investment in many entities regulated by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has long been subject to an interagency review process for the consideration of national security, foreign policy, and trade policy issues, referred to as “Team Telecom.” Pursuant to an April 2020 executive order and an October 2020 report and order of the FCC, this process has been formalized and streamlined under the new Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector (Committee).

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Two Rulings in Two Weeks on the TCPA’s Autodialer Restrictions

The last two weeks have brought two important (although unrelated) rulings on the TCPA’s Autodialer Restrictions.  First, on June 25, the Federal Communications Commission limited the applicability of the autodialer restrictions in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 (the “TCPA”), to an emerging texting technology. Second, less than two weeks later, the Supreme Court ruled that an exception to the TCPA’s autodialer restrictions for calls to collect federal debts was unconstitutional and expanded the statute’s reach.

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U.S. Supreme Court Poses New Questions About the Scope of Hobbs Act Review

On June 20, in PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that had been adverse to the interests of our client, PDR Network. Both the majority and concurring opinions in PDR Network raise interesting issues for lower courts to ponder as they consider how much to defer to agency decision making.

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Maine’s Act to Protect the Privacy of Online Consumer Information

Since the passage of the California Consumer Privacy Act (Cal. Civ. Code §1798.100 et seq.) (“CCPA”), several states are following in California’s footsteps and adopting privacy bills that would allow consumers to object to the sale of their personal information.

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California and Preemption

As one of the epicenters of the Information Age and largest state in the Nation, California’s regulatory decisions can have an outsize impact on the data economy.  Recently, the State has tried to use this pride of place to stamp its imprint on two important public debates.  First, on September 30, 2018, Governor Brown signed into law the California Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act of 2018 (Senate Bill 822), which seeks to impose, as a matter of state law, net neutrality regulation even more restrictive than the federal regime the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed earlier this year.  Second, earlier this year, California enacted (and then subsequently amended) the California Consumer Privacy of 2018, the broadest privacy law in the United States.  As laid out below, these enactments have sparked legal and policy debates over whether California should be able to set rules that could become de facto national standards or whether federal rules do or should preempt California’s efforts.  (more…)

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New Case Sheds Further Light on the Definition of Autodialer under the TCPA

Ever since the D.C. Circuit struck down the FCC’s overbroad rule defining “auto-dialers” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, district courts have debated the scope of the D.C. Circuit’s ruling: Did it effectively strike down earlier FCC pronouncements on what qualifies as an auto-dialer? In a carefully reasoned opinion, a district court judge in Chicago held last week that it did. (more…)

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FCC Asks for Input After ACA International v. FCC

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) bar has been reeling ever since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned a couple of key Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules in ACA International v. FCC, including the FCC’s overbroad interpretation of the definition of an autodialer. However, the ruling still left several key provisions in place that facilitate the potential for significant liability and sow uncertainty for everyday business and compliance operations. Now the commission has issued a public notice seeking input about how it should interpret the TCPA. Comments are due June 13, 2018, with replies due June 28. (more…)

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D.C. Circuit Strikes Down Some Rules Governing Telephone Consumer Protection Act, Upholds Others

On March 16, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a long-awaited ruling on a challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 order that expanded the scope of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). In ACA International v. FCC, No. 15-1211, the court invalidated a rule that had broadly defined automatic telephone dialing systems, or “auto-dialers”; it also struck down the FCC’s approach to situations where a caller obtains a party’s consent to be called but then, unbeknownst to the caller, the consenting party’s wireless number is reassigned. In the same ruling, the court upheld the FCC’s decision to allow parties who have consented to be called to revoke their consent in “any reasonable way,” as well as the FCC’s decision to limit the scope of an exemption to the TCPA’s consent requirement for certain healthcare-related calls.

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FCC and FTC Enter Memorandum of Understanding to Coordinate Regulation of ISPs

Following the recent adoption of the “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have entered an agreement to coordinate their cooperation on the regulation of ISPs to protect consumer interest. (more…)

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A Farewell to the FCC Broadband Privacy Rules

On April 3, 2017, President Trump signed the bill repealing the Federal Communications Commission’s much-debated broadband privacy rules. The House of Representatives voted 215–205 to disapprove the rules, after a party-line Senate vote of 50–48. The result is that the FCC’s key rules governing internet service providers’ collection and use of consumer data, as well as data security, will not go into effect as scheduled. Moreover, the FCC will be precluded from promulgating any regulation in “substantially the same” form until a future Congress allows such action.

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