FCC Law Blog

Developments in Communications Law

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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…
This week, you have likely heard about FIRRMA, the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, the law that will expand CFIUS. We have written about a number of aspects of the new law as it was being made, including the following: Expanding CFIUS Jurisdiction A CFIUS Focus on Emerging Technology Effects on Chinese Investment Enhancement of Export Controls Potentially CFIUS-Exempt Countries In this alert, we provide a quick overview of the major points of that law.…
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.…
During its most recent Term, the Supreme Court held in Lucia v. SEC that the administrative law judges (“ALJs”) that preside over adjudications at the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) are “Officers of the United States” who must be appointed pursuant to the Appointments Clause of the Constitution. 138 S.Ct. 2044, 2055 (2018). This holding necessarily calls into question the validity of the appointments of ALJs across diverse federal administrative agencies and their rulings. In light of this anticipated fall out, the Trump Administration moved swiftly to issue an Executive Order retooling the hiring process for ALJs. But whether the…
Promoting infrastructure investment and broadband deployment has been a top priority for Chairman Ajit Pai’s FCC. On July 12, 2018, the Chairman took a significant stride in advancing his agenda by releasing a draft report and order that would enact, among other things, a “one-touch make-ready” (OTMR) process for most third-party communications-provider attachments to utility poles.…
This week, the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC’s”) Restoring Internet Freedom Order took effect, rolling back the public-utility style regulation of Internet service providers (“ISPs”) pursuant to title II of the Communications Act, imposed during the prior administration by the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order (“2015 Order”). The agency’s return to a light touch regulatory approach has sparked public debate since FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed it more than a year ago. And while the FCC’s action is already the subject of several judicial challenges consolidated in the D.C. Circuit, a number of states have also sought to impose their own…
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.…
As yet another example of the U.S. government’s ongoing concerns about the potential vulnerability of U.S. telecommunications networks and supply chains, the FCC recently released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing to prohibit the use of funds disbursed from the Universal Services Fund (USF) to purchase equipment or services from any providers posing a national security threat to the U.S. The USF distributes funds and subsidies to companies who provide service to unserved and underserved locations and low-income consumers. The NPRM dovetails with recent governmental actions targeting perceived Chinese threats to U.S. telecommunications infrastructure, including the passage of the
CFIUS takes an unprecedented step to fend off a potential foreign acquisition The threat that China will eclipse the U.S. in telecommunications infrastructure and technology is central to U.S. national security Five key takeaways from the most recent CFIUS action Since late 2017, Singapore-based semiconductor company Broadcom has been pursuing a $117 billion hostile takeover bid for Qualcomm, its U.S.-based rival whose chips are omnipresent in U.S. telecommunications infrastructure, including consumer devices like smartphones and tablets. As part of its hostile bid, Broadcom nominated its own slate of six directors who were to be voted on at Qualcomm’s annual stockholders…
“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road” – Stewart Brand Last week, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing guidelines and procedures designed to “breathe life” into Section 7 of the Communications Act. A somewhat obscure part – or, as Chairman Ajit Pai prefers, the “neglected stepchild” – of the Communications Act, Section 7 requires the FCC to make a public interest determination on proposals for new technologies or services within one year. Although a one-year timeframe may seem like quite a lengthy period for…
Last month, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) released its annual report to Congress for 2015 (the “2015 Annual Report”) and its cumulative table summarizing foreign investment activity from 2014 through 2016 (the “Cumulative Summary Table”). These documents reflect a substantial increase in the number of CFIUS filings in recent years and an increase in the percentage of CFIUS Notices that have been subject to an investigation process. The Report also reflects a new focus at CFIUS on the national security risks associated with data breaches affecting U.S. citizens’ personal information.…
As the Rolling Stones famously sing, “You can’t always get what you want.” And in the ever treacherous world of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq., the Second Circuit has ruled that means a party to contract cannot unilaterally revoke consent to receive automated calls.…
Two recent judgements against Dish Network LLC (“Dish”) for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and similar state and federal laws demonstrate the significant liability companies may face based on the actions of their third-party contractors. Dish has been ordered to pay a total of approximately $341 million in two separate federal court actions related to TCPA violations committed by its marketing service providers. Both cases underscore the importance of maintaining strong vendor oversight in the highly regulated telemarketing industry.…
Under new Chairman Ajit Pai’s leadership, the Federal Communications Commission (the “Commission”) is taking its first steps toward reforming its rules interpreting the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). On Wednesday, May 17, the Commission published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) for a proposed rule that would allow all voice service providers – including wireless providers and VoIP providers – to block illegal robocalls before they reach consumers. Comments on the NPRM are due by July 3, 2017, and Reply Comments are due by July 31, 2017.…