Legislative Activity

Senators Seek Probe of Cyber Attacks on FCC’s Website

On May 31, Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Al Franken (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Markey (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote a letter to Andrew McCabe, Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), asking agency to “prioritize” an investigation into cyber-attacks that affected the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in early May. The attacks, which the FCC announced on May 8, are believed to have been distributed denial-of-service (DDos) attacks. A DDos attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. According to the FCC’s announcement, the attacks were “deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC’s comment system with a high amount of traffic to [the FCC’s] commercial cloud host.” The FCC further stated that “[w]hile the comment system remained up and running the entire time, the[] DDos events tied up the servers and prevented them from responding to people attempting to submit comments.” In their letter, the senators noted that the “public comment period associated with the FCC’s rulemaking authority is a critical part of the regulatory process and the primary way for the America people to make their voices heard.” They called the cyber-attack “extremely troubling given that it threatens to stifle the public’s ability to weigh in on” important issues. The senators noted that a congressional inquiry regarding the attacks has already been sent to the FCC and requested that the FBI “investigate the source of this attack” and to provide a briefing to the group on the matter by June 23.

Regulatory Activity

FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for June 22 Open Commission Meeting

The FCC has announced that the following items are tentatively on the agenda for consideration at the agency’s Open Commission Meeting on Thursday, June 22:

  • New Emergency Alert System (EAS) Event Code for Blue Alerts. The FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would amend its EAS rules to add a dedicated event code, “BLU,” for Blue Alerts, “so that EAS alerts can deliver actionable information to the public when a law enforcement officer is killed, seriously injured, missing in connection with his or her official duties, or if there is an imminent and credible threat to a law enforcement officer.”
  • First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). The FCC will consider a Report and Order that would establish “the procedures and standards the Commission will use to review alternative plans submitted by states seeking to ‘opt-out’ of the FirstNet network and to build their own Radio Access Networks that are interoperable with FirstNet.”
  • Exemption to Calling Number Identification Service. The FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that “would amend the Caller ID rules to allow disclosure of blocked Caller ID information to aid law enforcement in investigating threatening calls and continue the waiver of those rules that is currently in effect for Jewish Community Centers.”
  • OneWeb Market Access Request. The FCC will consider an Order and Declaratory Ruling that would recommend “granting OneWeb’s request to be permitted to access the U.S. market using its proposed global non-geostationary satellite constellation for the provision of broadband communications services in the United States.”
  • Improving Competitive Broadband Access to Multiple Tenant Environments. The FCC will consider a Notice of Inquiry that would seek “comment on ways to facilitate greater consumer choice and enhance broadband deployment in multiple tenant environments such as apartment buildings, condominium buildings, shopping malls, or cooperatives.” The Notice of Inquiry also would seek “comment on the current state of broadband competition in such locations and whether additional Commission action in this area is warranted to eliminate or reduce barriers faced by broadband providers that seek to serve the occupants of multiple tenant environments.”
  • Electronic Annual Notice Declaratory Ruling. The FCC will consider a Declaratory Ruling that “would clarify that the ‘written information’ that cable operators must provide to their subscribers via annual notices pursuant to Section 76.1602(b) of the Commission’s rules may be provided via e-mail.”
  • Modernization of Payphone Compensation Rules. The FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order that “(1) proposes to eliminate the requirement that carriers that complete payphone calls conduct an annual audit of their payphone call tracking systems and file an associated annual audit report with the Commission, and (2) waives the annual audit and associated reporting requirement for 2017.”
  • Enforcement Bureau Action. The FCC will consider an enforcement action.

The FCC has released draft versions of the non-enforcement items, which are available here.

The FCC’s Open Commission Meeting will be held on June 22 at 10:30 a.m. in the Commission Meeting Room at the FCC’s headquarters at 445 12th Street S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554, and will be streamed live at www.fcc.gov/live.