Legislative Activity

New COPPA Bill Expected Soon

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), a longtime privacy advocate, and Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the chair of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, are expected to introduce a bill in the near future that would expand protections under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to teenagers age 13-16. Currently, COPPA only protects children under the age of 13. The bill will likely mirror the lawmakers’ Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011, which prohibited companies from tracking children, restricted online marketing to minors, and required an “eraser button” to allow parents to eliminate previously stored information about their child.

Sen. Markey Calls On FTC To Investigate Online Tracking Across Devices

Sen. Markey also called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week to investigate technologies that allow companies to track consumers online across multiple digital devices. In an October 10 letter, Sen. Markey wrote that such tracking practices raise serious privacy concerns that should be investigated and addressed by the agency.

Do-Not-Track Working Group Discusses Future Plans

After welcoming two new co-chairs, members of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Do-Not-Track Working Group voted last Wednesday, October 9 on its path forward. Members were asked to choose between five options: (1) continue working under the proposed “Plan to Get to Last Call;” (2) continue under the proposed plan but postpone resolution of controversial issues; (3) finalize the Tracking Preference Expression (TPE) first, and then move to compliance; (4) work only on the TPE; or (5) stop work altogether. In total, almost half of the group voted to discontinue the group’s work altogether. Only four members signaled that they prefer to continue working under the proposed plan. Although the vote was not binding, it does signal a lack of confidence among stakeholders that the W3C is the best forum to develop a Do-Not-Track standard.

Regulatory Activity

FCC Remains Closed Due To Government Shutdown; Filing Deadlines Postponed

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) remained closed this week due to the government shutdown. Filing deadlines during the government shutdown continue to be postponed. As reported last week, the FCC released a public notice announcing that any materials that otherwise would be required to be filed with the FCC during the government shutdown will be due on the business day following the day of return to normal government operations. The FCC so far has not announced whether it will further postpone any filing deadlines. Because the FCC’s websites are inaccessible during the shutdown, resources needed to prepare many filings remain unavailable.

New TCPA Requirements Take Effect October 16

As a reminder, new requirements under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) take effect this Wednesday, October 16. Under the new rules, companies must obtain “prior express written consent” before making a telemarketing call to a wireless number (either consumer or business) using an automated dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice. Similar consent must be obtained before calling a residential landline phone using an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver a telemarketing message. The term “prior express written consent” is specifically defined in the FCC’s new rules as a written agreement, signed by the person receiving the call or text, with a “clear and conspicuous disclosure” that specifically authorizes the seller to send telemarketing communications using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice. The disclosure also must specifically note that the person is not required to sign the agreement as a condition of purchasing any property, goods, or services.

This Week’s Tentatively Scheduled Meetings And Deadlines:

  • Wednesday, October 16: Reply comments are scheduled to be due in the FCC’s E-rate modernization proceeding. This deadline, however, could be postponed due to the government shutdown.
  • Thursday, October 17: The Board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is scheduled to hold a meeting. While FirstNet continues to operate during the government shutdown, the Board meeting may be postponed until the government resumes operating.
  • Friday, October 18: Initial comments are scheduled to be due in the FCC’s proceeding regarding next steps to address Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service practices threatening the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Service Fund. This deadline, however, could be postponed due to the government shutdown.