Legislative Activity

House Passes Anti-Spoofing Act

On September 9, the House of Representatives passed the Anti-Spoofing Act of 2014 (H.R.3670) to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to expand the prohibition on the provision of inaccurate caller identification (ID) information and spoofing to persons outside the U.S. if the recipient is within the U.S. Spoofing is a technique that allows a caller to alter the phone number that appears on the recipient’s caller ID system to try to scam consumers or trick law enforcement officials. The prohibition makes it unlawful to cause a caller ID service to knowingly transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value. The legislation revises the definitions of “caller identification information” and “caller identification service” to include text messages and expands the categories of IP-enabled voice services that are subject to the prohibition. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

House Passes E-Label Act

On September 11, the House of Representatives passed the Enhance Labeling, Accessing, and Branding of Electronic Licenses Act of 2014 (E-LABEL Act) (H.R.5161) to permit the use of electronic labeling of devices that require FCC certification, such as phones, computers and other electronic devices. The legislation allows electronics manufacturers to display the required FCC label of approval electronically instead of physically on the device or product. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Wednesday, September 17: The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a hearing on oversight of the FCC’s management and spending.
  • Wednesday, September 17: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled “Why Net Neutrality Matters: Protecting Consumers and Competition Through Meaningful Open Internet Rules.”

Regulatory Activity

Commission Announces Tentative Agenda

Last Tuesday, September 9, the Commission announced the following four items on the tentative agenda for the September 30, 2014 Open Meeting:

  • Sports Blackout Rules Report and Order:  The Commission will consider a Report and Order that would eliminate FCC sports blackout rules, which can prevent consumers from watching their teams’ games on local television.  In a recent blog post published on the FCC’s website, Chairman Tom Wheeler explained that “the Commission enacted [these] rules barring cable from airing a game that has been blacked out on the local television station because it was not sold out – strengthening the NFL’s blackout policy.”  He noted further that in today’s climate, “the rules make no sense at all” and that “[t]here is no better example of an FCC rule that has outlived its usefulness and deserves to be eliminated than our sports blackout rule.”
  • Comprehensive Review of Licensing and Operating Rules for Satellite Services:  After receiving what the Chairman characterized as “significant stakeholder input,” the Commission will consider a Further NPRM to streamline and update Part 25 of the Commission’s rules.  Part 25 governs licensing and operation of both space and earth stations for the provision of satellite communication services. These proposals will amend, clarify, or eliminate numerous rule provisions and reduce regulatory burdens, “increasing the speed and ease of introducing new satellite services, while promoting competition among service providers.”
  • Part 15 NPRM:  The Commission will also consider an NPRM to revise rules for unlicensed operations in the TV bands and new 600 MHz Band, including fixed and personal/portable white space devices and unlicensed microphones.  Chairman Wheeler noted that the recommendations included in the NPRM fulfill the FCC’s “objective to extend opportunities for innovative unlicensed use in the 600 MHz band, while preventing harmful interference to licensed services.”
  • Wireless Microphones NPRM:  Finally, the Commission will consider an NPRM to address the needs of wireless mic users, while recognizing that they must share limited spectrum with other wireless uses.

The open meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. in room TW-C305 at the FCC, with a formal agenda being issued one week prior to the meeting. 

Canadian National Railway Agrees to Pay $5.25 Million to Settle Unauthorized Assignment and Operation Allegations

Last Thursday, September 11, the Commission announced that it had entered into a consent decree with Canadian National Railway (CNR) valued at US$5.25 million to settle FCC allegations that the company acquired and operated hundreds of wireless radio facilities without first obtaining FCC permission.  In a press release, the Enforcement Bureau explained that the “[t]he scope and duration of these unauthorized operations is unprecedented in the history of the Commission.”  The settlement requires CNR to implement a robust three-year compliance plan to settle allegations that the CNR operated some stations without Commission authorization for more than 20 years before disclosing the operation to the Commission.

Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc noted that the settlement “sends a clear and strong message to the railroad industry, as well as other industries that rely on wireless technology, that they will face very serious consequences when they fail to comply with the Commission’s Rules.”