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Focus on Regulation

Category Archives: Technology, Media & Telecoms

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FCC Confirms that Certain COVID-19 Communications Fall Within the TCPA’s “Emergency Purposes” Exception

Hospitals, health care providers, health officials, and other government officials may use automated calls and text messages to communicate information about COVID-19 when “necessary to protect the health and safety of citizens,” without violating the TCPA.  The FCC released the Declaratory Ruling on its own motion, without being prompted to do so by a regulated party.

Seventh Circuit Joins Third and Eleventh Circuits in “Autodialer” Circuit Split

The U.S. Courts of Appeal increasingly agree on how to interpret the definition of “automatic telephone dialing system” (“ATDS” or “autodialer”) in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). The Seventh Circuit held that an “autodialer” must use “a random or sequential number generator” to either store or produce numbers.

Eleventh Cir. Rejects Broad Reading of “Autodialer”

The key issue is how to interpret ambiguous language in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s (TCPA) definition of “automatic telephone dialing system.” The Eleventh Circuit panel’s decision in Glasser rejects that trend, joins the D.C. Circuit in adopting a much narrower view of the TCPA’s scope, and establishes a clear circuit split with the Ninth Circuit.

Congress Passes Bipartisan Robocall Legislation

On December 19, 2019, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act (S. 151), which the House of Representatives passed in a 417-3 vote earlier this month.  With the Senate’s passage of the reconciled bill, the bipartisan legislation now heads to President Trump’s desk for his review.

WRC-19 Revamps ITU Radio Regulations to Accommodate Emerging Communications Technologies

Communications technologies often evolve more quickly than the regulatory frameworks governing them. To keep pace, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) revisits the ITU’s Radio Regulations governing radiofrequency spectrum use approximately every four years to accommodate new technologies and uses. Between WRCs, national administrations and ITU sector members (interested companies and trade

FCC Issues Public Notice on Spectrum Allocations for UAS Operations

The FCC recently issued a Public Notice that sought comment on whether to make the 960-1164 MHz and 5030-5091 MHz bands available to support unmanned aerial system operations (UAS). The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 required the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and the FCC to submit a report

FCC Announces Members of Precision Agriculture Task Force

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, announced the members of the Task Force for Reviewing the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States (Task Force). The Task Force, an advisory body to the FCC, will investigate the current state of broadband access in agricultural lands and recommend

Germany’s proposed digital antitrust law: an ambitious project to regulate digital markets

Germany is about to implement an ambitious new “digital antitrust law” (“GWB-Digitalisierungsgesetz”) to effectively regulate online markets. The draft Ministerial bill on the 10th amendment of the German Act Against Restraints of Competition (“GWB”), published at the beginning of October, aims at continuing Germany’s role as a pioneer in antitrust regulation of digital markets. Regulation

FCC Announces Participants in Auction 103

In a Public Notice released October 7, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the status of the 39 short-form applications for Auction 103, which is scheduled to begin on December 10, 2019. Auction 103 will offer 14,144 licenses covering some 3,400 megahertz of spectrum in the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz

Ill-Suited: Private Rights of Action and Privacy Claims

“For years, the plaintiffs’ bar has conjured multibillion-dollar class action lawsuits out of largely intangible privacy harms. This wave of litigation is increasingly driven by federal and state statutes that include private rights of action and allow for excessive statutory damages. Given the willingness of some courts to let cases proceed despite a lack of

Update on FCC 5.9 GHz band rule-making

On May 14, 2019, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced plans to open a rule-making to take a “fresh look” at the 5850-5925 megahertz (MHz) (5.9 gigahertz (GHz)) spectrum band. Initial reports suggested that the FCC would take the issue up in June, but the 5.9 GHz rule-making was not included on the

NOAA Hosts First Ever Interagency Satellite Workshop

In October, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) brought together NOAA licensees and prospective licensees and representatives from across the federal government for a workshop on U.S. satellite licensing and compliance regulations. The first of its kind, this three-day event was designed to promote transparency and awareness about government processes and to improve

CMS proposes requiring drug prices in TV ads

On October 15, CMS released a proposed rule titled “Medicare and Medicaid Programs: Drug Pricing Transparency,” which would require direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements for prescription drugs covered by Medicare or Medicaid to include the Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC).  This proposed rule resembles a rejected Senate amendment to the FY-2019 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (analyzed here) that would

Privacy and common standards underpin UK Government’s strategy for technology-driven healthcare

The UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published a new policy paper “The future of healthcare: our vision for digital, data and technology in health and care” setting out the UK’s approach to using the best technology available in the National Health Service (NHS) and social care sector to provide better care

Eighth Circuit Finds that Bare “Technical Violations” of the TCPA Do Not Establish Standing

In St. Louis Heart Center v. Nomax, Inc., the Eighth Circuit held that an “alleged failure to provide a technically compliant opt-out notice” in a fax advertisement, without more, does not give a plaintiff Article III standing to bring a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) claim. The Eighth Circuit’s decision requires that the alleged injury

Bills Introduced to Amend the Telephone Consumer Protection Act

Both Chambers of Congress are considering legislation that would amend the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).  Introduced in the House by Congressman Pallone (H.R. 6026) and in the Senate (S. 3078) by Senator Markey, the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act adds a new definition, “robocall,” in place of “automated telephone dialing system.”  The new term would

RICO Complaint Settlement Highlights TCPA Abuse by Plaintiffs’ Law Firms; Serial Plaintiffs and Cy Pres Awards Continue to Flourish

As the number of frivolous Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) class actions continues to grow unabated, the potential rewards have even led to alleged criminal activity by plaintiff firms seeking to game the system.  A recently settled Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) complaint showcases a particularly egregious series of allegations that several plaintiffs’

Legislative and Regulatory Update on Federal Supply Chain Risk Management

The U.S. Government is renewing its focus on mitigating technological risks by regulating the supply chain for various goods and services. To achieve these goals, Congress and agencies have introduced, and in some cases enacted, legislation and regulations that direct agencies to identify, assess, and mitigate supply chain risks generally as well as prohibit agencies