Legislative Activity

Senate Commerce Committee Evaluates FCC and FTC Nominees

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing on Wednesday, September 18 to consider the nominations of Michael O’Rielly to serve as a Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Terrell McSweeny to serve as a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Mr. O’Rielly, a senior policy advisor for Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) enjoys the strong support of the Republican committee membership but faced criticism from senior Democrat members of the committee. The committee is expected to schedule a vote on Mr. O’Rielly’s nomination soon, and at the same time as a vote on Tom Wheeler, the Administration’s nominee to chair the FCC.

Chairman Goodlatte Releases Remote Sales Tax Statement of Principles

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) released a statement of principles “pertaining to the issue of Internet sales tax” on Wednesday, September 18. The principles include basic positions regarding tax relief, technology neutrality, regulation of state taxes, simplicity in implementation, incentives to keep state taxes low, states’ rights, and protection of sensitive customer data. The committee is expected to continue examining the remote sales tax issue following Senate passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act (S. 743).

House Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Voluntary IP Agreements

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled “The Role of Voluntary Agreements in the U.S. Intellectual Property System.” During the hearing, some stakeholders described voluntary agreements as effective tools to combat online piracy, and “close the gap” between content and service providers online. While stakeholders stressed that the federal government plays an important role in online piracy, others noted that the flexible nature of voluntary partnerships is a primary reason why the Copyright Alert System has emerged as an effective anti-piracy tool.

Regulatory Activity

FTC Continues to Crack Down on Spam Texts

Rentbro, Inc., an affiliate marketing company, and its principals have agreed to settle FTC charges for allegedly sending deceptive text messages to millions of consumers telling them they had been selected to receive $1,000 gift cards to major retailers as a ploy to collect personal information. In addition to having to turn over all remaining assets and a partially-suspended monetary judgment of $377,321, the settlement prohibits the defendants from sending unwanted texts to consumers, and from misleading consumers about winning gifts, prizes or free products.

Online Privacy

On Tuesday, September 17, Digital Advertising Alliance announced that it would leave the W3C after expressing frustration with the group’s progress, which many believed would doom the group’s efforts. The next day the W3C announced two new co-chairs and a new path forward. Carl Cargill, Adobe’s Standards Principal, and Justin Brookman, Director of the Consumer Privacy Project, will now lead the group. The W3C’s new plan “to get to last call” includes finalizing preparations by the end of September and closing the finalized set of issues in October.

Upcoming Meetings and Deadlines:

  • Monday, September 23: Reply comments are due in response to the FCC’s air-ground mobile broadband NPRM.
  • Wednesday, September 25: Comments are due in response to the agenda for the FCC’s E911 Phase II Location Accuracy Workshop on October 2.
  • Thursday, September 26: The FCC will hold an Open Meeting. The Agenda includes an Antenna Structure Registration NPRM, a National Television Multiple Ownership Rule NPRM, a Memorandum Opinion and Order in Bloomberg v. Comcast, an NPRM addressing the Resiliency of Mobile Wireless Communications Networks, and a presentation by the Media Bureau on the status of the Low Power FM open filing window.
  • Friday, September 27: Comments and petitions to deny are due in response to the applications filed with the FCC seeking approval of AT&T’s acquisition of Leap Wireless.
  • Monday, September 30: Reply comments are due in response to the FCC’s Speech-to-Speech Telecommunications Relay Service Further NPRM.