Deadlines & Headlines

Featuring the latest news, trends, and legal developments in the telecommunications and technology space.

Deadlines & Headlines
Deadlines and Headlines
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FCC Paving the Way for Advancement of Telehealth

What’s New?

The Federal Communications Commission recently solicited public comment on how it can better facilitate broadband-enabled health care solutions by adopting new policies or removing existing regulatory barriers. Initial comments are due on May 24, while reply comments are due June 8 of this year. 
 
The FCC recognizes that it plays an important role in advancing innovation in health care through its Rural Health Care Program, spectrum licensing, and various broadband infrastructure programs. The FCC also noted that by some estimates, “broadband-enabled health information technology can help to improve the quality of health care and significantly lower health care costs by hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decades.”

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Consumer Privacy & Telemarketing, Deadlines and Headlines, Telecommunications & Technology Agreements
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Ninth Circuit Rules That Receiving Allegedly Unsolicited Text Is Sufficient By Itself To Establish Concrete Harm

On January 30, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) class action on the ground that the plaintiff did not clearly revoke his prior express consent to receive text messages from his former gym. But in coming to this conclusion, the court first found that a TCPA plaintiff does not have to allege any additional harm beyond receiving an unsolicited text message to satisfy the concrete-injury requirement that was recently at the center of the Supreme Court’s Spokeo decision. 
 

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Consumer Privacy & Telemarketing, Deadlines and Headlines
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FCC Adopts Broadband Privacy Rules And Signals Mandatory Arbitration Clauses Are Next In Its Crosshairs
At its monthly Open Meeting on October 27, the Federal Communications Commission adopted, but has not yet released, new privacy rules requiring retail broadband providers to offer consumers more choice over how their personal information is used. Under the new rules, which were approved on a party-line 3-2 vote, the level of consent required from the consumer will be measured against the sensitivity of the data. The FCC stated that it attempted to develop a privacy framework “in line with the approaches taken by other privacy frameworks, including the FTC’s and the Administration’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.”
 
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Deadlines and Headlines
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Another Court Finds Group Messaging Platforms Fall Outside the TCPA

Recently another federal district court ruled that text messages sent from a group messaging platform were not autodialed, even when transmitted in bulk, because of the significant human intervention required to initiate a text message campaign through the platform. Since the text messages were not autodialed, the messages were not subject to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the case was dismissed. Jenkins v. mGage, LLC, 2016 WL 4263937 (N.D. Ga. Aug. 12, 2016).
 

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Deadlines and Headlines
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Dick’s Cannot Scuttle TCPA Suit After Court Finds Its Terms of Use Unenforceable

On July 5, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California refused to compel a TCPA plaintiff to arbitrate his dispute against Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc., thus allowing the case to proceed in federal court.  This decision potentially paves the way for class certification despite the class waiver provision contained in Dick’s Terms of Use. This case highlights that no matter how bulletproof a company’s terms and conditions may appear, it is equally important that companies should assess how they obtain consumer assent to their terms and conditions if companies want to be able to enforce them later.  A copy of the decision can be found here
 

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Consumer Privacy & Telemarketing, Telecommunications & Technology Agreements
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Consumer Watchdogs Attack Cable Companies’ Privacy Practices, Bark at Privacy Cops

Consumer advocate groups--Public Knowledge, Consumer Watchdog, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, TURN-The Utility Reform Network and Consumer Federation of America—recently filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and a petition with the Federal Communications Commission against AT&T, Cablevision, and Comcast, citing privacy-related offenses. The FTC complaint notes the companies’ failure to adequately disclose the extent of their consumer data use and sharing, arguing that their use of customer data without appropriate disclosures and without opt-in consent amounts to an “unfair and deceptive” practice in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The FCC petition, on the other hand, asserts that the cable and satellite providers fail to adequately obtain customer consent prior to collection and use of such data, in violation of federal law.
 

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Deadlines and Headlines
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Reminder: April 1st Filing Deadlines for FCC Form 499-A and Accessibility Recordkeeping Certificates

Companies that provide telecommunications and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service are reminded that FCC Form 499-A is due Friday, April 1, 2016. FCC Form 499-A reports annual revenue to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as well as other fund administrators. This form must be filed by all interstate telecommunications carriers, interconnected VoIP providers, providers of interstate telecommunications that offer service for a fee on a non-common carrier basis (including stand-alone audio bridging companies), and payphone providers that are aggregators.
 
In addition, non-interconnected VoIP providers are required to file this form for the assessment of fees to support the Telecommunications Relay System (TRS).
 

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Deadlines and Headlines, Telecommunications & Technology Agreements
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Annual CPNI Certificates Due March 1, 2016

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Public Notice on February 5, 2016, reminding telecommunications companies that the deadline for filing annual certificates of compliance with the Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) rules is Tuesday, March 1, 2016. The FCC includes the following types of providers in its non-exhaustive list of filers: telecommunications carriers, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers, commercial mobile radio providers (CMRS), interexchange carriers, prepaid calling card providers, resellers, and calling card providers.
 
Certificates must contain an officer’s signature attesting that he or she has personal knowledge that the company has established procedures to protect CPNI, as well as a description of those procedures. Further, the company must describe any actions taken against data brokers in 2015, as well as any customer complaints received regarding CPNI.

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Licensing & Regulatory Compliance
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REMINDER — FCC Annual Regulatory Fees Due Thursday, September 24, 2015

The FCC Annual Regulatory Fees are due Thursday, September 24, 2015. All FCC licensees, with some very limited exceptions, must pay this fee. In addition, for the first time, the FCC is requiring that US Responsible Organizations (RespOrgs) that provision toll-free numbers pay the FCC’s Annual Regulatory Fees. Non-US RespOrgs (e.g. Canadian RespOrgs) are not required to pay the FCC’s Annual Regulatory Fees.
 
Payments must be received by the FCC by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on that day or be subject to a mandatory 25 percent late payment fee. All Interstate Telecommunications Service Providers (ITSPs), other FCC licensees, and RespOrgs must log into the Commission’s Fee Filer System in order to review their invoices. No paper bills will be sent. Further, the FCC will only accept payment of the Annual Regulatory Fee electronically.
 

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