Legislative Activity

Online Privacy Legislation Introduced in the Senate

On April 27, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced S.964, the Managing Your Data Against Telecom Abuses Act of 2017 (MY DATA Act). The legislation prevents broadband providers and edge providers, such as Amazon or Netflix, from using “an unfair or deceptive act or practice relating to privacy or data security in or affecting commerce.” The legislation provides for dual enforcement of this prohibition by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and by the states. Specifically, the FTC would be allowed to treat a violation of the prohibition as an “unfair or deceptive act or practice in violation of a regulation prescribed under . . . the Federal Trade Commission Act . . . regarding unfair or deceptive acts or practices.” At the same time, the legislation would allow state attorneys general to “bring a civil action on behalf of the residents of [a] State in an appropriate district court . . . to obtain appropriate relief” in the event that an attorney general “has reason to believe that an interest of the residents of [a] State has been or is threatened or adversely affected” by an unfair or deceptive act or practice of a broadband or edge provider. The bill, which has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation (Senate Commerce Committee) for consideration, follows the repeal (previously discussed here and here) by Congress and the White House of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) broadband privacy rules.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Wednesday, May 3, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “Investing in America’s Broadband Infrastructure: Exploring Ways to Reduce Barriers to Deployment.” The witnesses will be:
    • Patricia Cooper, Vice President of Satellite Government Affairs, SpaceX;
    • Larry Downes, Project Director, Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy;
    • Brian Hendricks, Head of Technology Policy & Public Affairs for the Americas Region, Nokia Corporation; and
    • The Honorable Jeff Weninger, State Representative, Arizona House of Representatives.

Regulatory Activity

FCC Releases Tentative Agenda for May Open Meeting

The FCC has announced that the following items are tentatively on the agenda for its May 18 Open Commission Meeting:

  • Satellite Earth Stations in Motion. The FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that “would both facilitate the deployment of and reduce regulatory burdens on the three types of Fixed-Satellite Service earth stations authorized to transmit while in motion: Earth Stations on Vessels, Vehicle-Mounted Earth Stations, and Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft.”
  • Part 95 Reform. The FCC will consider a Report and Order that “would amend provisions of the Personal Radio Services located in Part 95 of the [FCC’s] rules in order to address two Petitions for Rulemaking, update and modernize various rules to reflect current uses and technologies, remove outdated regulatory requirements, and reorganize the rules to make them easier to read and understand.”
  • Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative. The FCC will consider a Public Notice that “would launch a review of the [FCC’s] rules applicable to media entities and seek comment on what rules should be modified or repealed.”
  • Proposed Elimination of Main Studio Rule. The FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that “would propose to eliminate the [FCC’s] main studio rule, based on a tentative finding that the rule is now outdated and unnecessarily burdensome for broadcast stations.”
  • Restoring Internet Freedom. The FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that “would propose to restore the Internet to a light-touch regulatory framework by classifying broadband Internet access service as an information service and by seeking comment on the existing rules governing Internet service providers’ practices.”
  • Connect America Fund. The FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that “proposes to eliminate a rule requiring rural telecommunications service providers receiving USF support to impose higher minimum monthly rates on their customers than the rates paid by some of their urban counterparts, or otherwise lose some USF support. The [FCC] will also consider a related Order that would freeze the current rate.”

The FCC has released drafts of the items listed above, which are available here. The FCC’s Open Meeting is scheduled to commence on May 18 at 10:30 a.m. in the Commission Meeting Room at the FCC’s headquarters at 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C., and can be streamed live at fcc.gov/live.