Legislative Activity

Anti-Spoofing Act Introduced in Senate

Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee (Senate Commerce Committee) Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL) has introduced S.134, the Spoofing Prevention Act of 2017. The legislation, the text of which has not yet been released, targets the practice of caller identification (caller ID) “spoofing,” which is a practice whereby callers falsify or disguise their caller ID information to make it appear as though they are calling from a different entity such as a government agency, bank, police department, or hospital. The practice is often used to trick or elude consumers or law enforcement officials. The bill is designed to expand the existing prohibition against caller ID spoofing contained in Section 227(e) of the Communications Act. The bill has been referred to the Senate Commerce Committee for consideration.

Regulatory Activity

President Trump to Elevate FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to FCC Chairman

According to multiple press reports, President Donald Trump will elevate FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to serve as the FCC’s next Chairman. Mr. Pai was nominated to be an FCC Commissioner by former President Obama and took office in May 2012. Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler stepped down on January 20, leaving the FCC with a 2-1 Republican majority.

FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for January Open Meeting

The FCC has announced that the following item is tentatively on the agenda for its January 31 Open Commission Meeting:

  • Streamlining the Public File Rules. The FCC will consider a Report and Order to “eliminate the requirement that commercial broadcast stations retain copies of letters and emails from the public in their public inspection file and the requirement that cable operators retain the location of the cable system’s principal headend in their public inspection file.”

The FCC’s January 31 Open Meeting is scheduled to commence at 10:30 a.m. at the FCC’s headquarters at 445 12th Street S.W., and will be streamed live at fcc.gov/live.

FCC Announces Broadcast Incentive Auction Will Close in Current Stage

The broadcast incentive auction will “successfully conclude” in Stage 4, the current stage, according to an FCC news release. The broadcast incentive auction is a market-based means of repurposing spectrum by encouraging broadcast television licensees to voluntarily relinquish spectrum usage rights in exchange for a portion of the proceeds from an auction of new wireless licenses to use the repurposed spectrum. Former FCC Chairman Wheeler stated in the news release that the incentive auction “has delivered on its ambitious promise,” and as a result of the auction, the FCC “will repurpose 70 MHz of high-value, completely clear low-band spectrum for mobile broadband on a nationwide basis” and “14 MHz of new unlicensed spectrum . . . will be available for consumer devices and new services.” The auction will provide “$10.05 billion for broadcast television licensees who participated and billions toward deficit reduction,” according to former FCC Chairman Wheeler’s statement in the news release.

Oppositions to Petition for Reconsideration of FCC Order Implementing TCPA Exemption for Federal Debt Collection Calls Due February 1

Oppositions to a joint petition for reconsideration of the FCC’s August 11, 2016 Report and Order that implemented the exemption to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s (TCPA’s) “prior express consent” requirement for calls “made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States” are due February 1, and replies to an opposition are due February 13, according to a notice published in the Federal Register. The petition was filed by Nelnet, Inc., Navient Corp., Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, and the Student Loan Servicing Alliance. The petitioners in part seek reconsideration of the FCC’s decision to cap “the number of permitted calls to wireless numbers at no more than three within a thirty-day period,” arguing principally that such a restriction was “drawn from thin air [and] is not supported by any data in the record.”

FCC’s Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) Issues Cybersecurity Risk Reduction White Paper

On January 18, the FCC’s PSHSB released a “Cybersecurity Risk Reduction” White Paper that “describes the risk reduction portfolio of the [FCC] and suggests actions that would continue to affirmatively reduce cyber risk in a manner that incents competition, protects consumers, and reduces significant national security risks.” The PSHSB states in the White Paper that cybersecurity is a “top priority” for the FCC, and notes that the PSHSB’s “portfolio of programs to address cybersecurity risk” include “collaborative efforts with key Internet stakeholder groups; increased interagency cooperation; and regulatory solutions to address residual risks that are unlikely to be addressed by market forces alone.” The PSHSB further states that the FCC’s “oversight of our country’s privately owned and managed communications networks is an important component of the larger effort to protect critical communications infrastructure and the American public from malicious cyber actors,” and that the FCC is “uniquely situated to comprehensively address this issue.”