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TMT Law Watch

Business, legal, and policy developments affecting the telecom, media, and technology sector.

Frequently Asked Questions About Net Neutrality

Posted in Other Topics

By Marc MartinJenny Paul, and Elyse Schoenfeld*

UPDATE 11/11/2014:  Below is an FAQ that explores various questions regarding net neutrality. The FAQs are useful background in light of President Obama’s statements yesterday that he supports Title II regulation for ISPs and is against paid prioritization. These topics are discussed in more depth below. Continue Reading

Cybersecurity: The Obama Administration Proposes Legislation; Proposals Would Standardize Breach Notification Requirements, Enhance Cybersecurity-Related Information Sharing, and Toughen Cybercrime Prosecution

Posted in Consumer Issues, Privacy & Data Security

By R. Paul Stimers, András P. Teleki, Bruce J. Heiman, Michael J. O’Neil

On January 13, 2015, in response to the continuing onslaught of cyber attacks, including the recent cybersecurity attack and data loss at Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Obama Administration sent to Congress three legislative proposals to improve cybersecurity. The proposals would:

  • Establish a single federal breach notification standard preempting a patchwork of state notification laws;
  • Encourage cyber threat information sharing within the private sector and between the private sector and the federal government; and
  • Enhance law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute cyber crimes.

The President has been highlighting the cybersecurity proposals in a series of speeches leading up to the State of the Union Address today.

To read the full alert, click here.


FCC Proposes to Label OTT Video Providers as MVPDs

Posted in Industry Sectors, Multichannel Video & Programming

By Marc Martin, Jenny Paul, and Marty Stern

The Federal Communications Commission announced on Friday the launch of a rulemaking to expand the term “multichannel video programming distributor,” a move that could give Internet-based streaming and carriage services the same access to programming that cable and satellite providers have.  The rulemaking follows on the heels of a similar proposal floated by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a blog post in November.
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E-LABEL Act Exempts Wireless Devices from Physical Label Requirements

Posted in Compliance Updates & Enforcement, Consumer Issues, Privacy & Data Security, Wireless

President Obama recently signed the E-LABEL Act, which allows electronics manufacturers to digitally display required FCC labeling information, as opposed to affixing physical labels to the outside of devices. Continue Reading

New Russian Requirements for Mass Media and Personal Data Protection May Take Toll on Foreign Companies Doing Business in Russia

Posted in Other Topics

By Georgy Borisov and Sergei Korovkin

Earlier this year, Russia’s State Duma introduced amendments to Russian laws related to mass media and personal data protection that may have a significant effect on foreign companies doing business in Russia. Continue Reading

Ruling Confirms FAA Enforcement Authority Over Reckless Unmanned Aircraft Operations

Posted in Consumer Issues, Privacy & Data Security, Law Enforcement

By Tom DeCesar, Ed Fishman, Jim Insco, and Marty Stern

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled earlier this week that small, unmanned aircraft flights are subject to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules prohibiting careless and reckless aircraft operation, potentially subjecting small, unmanned aircraft operators to civil enforcement penalties for such operations.  The FAA appealed the closely watched case to the full NTSB after an administrative law judge (ALJ) reached the opposite conclusion in an earlier proceeding.

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Arbitration Provision Unenforceable in TCPA Class Action, Ninth Circuit Holds

Posted in Consumer Issues, Privacy & Data Security

By Andrew Glass and Roger Smerage

The Ninth Circuit recently held that a consumer’s TCPA class action against Sirius XM Radio Inc. (“Sirius XM”) was not subject to Sirius XM’s arbitration agreement.  The consumer brought suit alleging that the satellite radio provider violated the TCPA by placing automated calls to his cellular phone without his consent.  Sirius XM sought to compel arbitration on an individual basis.  The consumer countered that although he purchased a car that was preloaded with a trial subscription to Sirius XM radio, the purchase agreement made no mention of a contract governing the satellite radio service.  Rather, the consumer asserted that he did not receive Sirius XM’s terms and conditions until more than a month after he purchased the car, but that those terms required cancellation of service within three days of activation of the trial subscription.  Because of the manner in which Sirius XM delivered its terms and conditions to purchasers of cars with trial subscriptions, the Ninth Circuit found that the consumer could not have provided assent to be bound by the arbitration provision.  Thus, the Ninth Circuit ruled that neither the arbitration provision nor the class action waiver it contained was enforceable.  The decision was issued in a case styled Knutson v. Sirius XM Radio Inc., — F.3d —-, 2014 WL 5802284 (9th Cir. Nov. 10, 2014).

Eleventh Circuit Endorses Different TCPA Liability Standards for Faxes and Calls

Posted in Compliance Updates & Enforcement, Consumer Issues, Privacy & Data Security

By Molly K. McGinley and Joseph Wylie

The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit recently ruled in Palm Beach Golf Center-Boca, Inc. v. Sarris that a company that contracted with a third party advertising firm to send fax advertisements could be directly liable under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act for faxes sent by the third-party firm on the company’s behalf.  In so holding, the 11th Circuit adopted a framework advanced by the Federal Communications Commission that imposes broader liability for third-party faxing than for third-party calling made on a company’s behalf. Continue Reading

Eleventh Circuit Bolsters FCC Interpretation of “Prior Express Consent” under the TCPA

Posted in Compliance Updates & Enforcement, Consumer Issues, Privacy & Data Security

By Gregory N. Blase, Andrew C. Glass, and Samantha A. Miko

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently bolstered the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) interpretation of “prior express consent,” a key term under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).

In Mais v. Gulf Coast Collection Bureau, Inc., the plaintiff’s wife provided the plaintiff’s cellphone number on a hospital admittance form.  The form disclosed that any information supplied could be shared with the hospital’s affiliates and used for any purpose, including for billing.  After the plaintiff failed to pay a hospital affiliate’s invoice for treatment services rendered, the affiliate provided the plaintiff’s contact information to the defendant, which initiated collection activity, including contacting the plaintiff at the cellphone number that was provided on his admittance form by his wife.

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FCC Chairman Proposes to Give Online Video Providers Access Rights to Cable and Broadcast Programming

Posted in Multichannel Video & Programming

By Marc Martin, Jenny Paul, and Marty Stern

A recent proposal from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler could provide Internet-based streaming and carriage services the right to carry cable-owned programming and to negotiate retransmission deals with broadcasters.  According to the Chairman’s blog post, the  move would allow “over-the-top” video providers to more easily compete with established cable, telecom, and satellite TV services. Continue Reading

FCC Confirms ‘Opt-Out’ Notice Requirement for All Fax Advertisements

Posted in Compliance Updates & Enforcement

By Molly K. McGinley, Nicole C. Mueller, and Joseph C. Wylie II

The Federal Communications Commission recently released an Order in response to multiple petitions confirming that opt-out notices are required on all advertisements transmitted by facsimile, even those sent with the prior express permission of the recipient.  The FCC also granted retroactive waivers to petitioners that were reasonably uncertain, based on ambiguities in a 2006 Report and Order modifying the FCC’s junk fax rules, about whether the opt-out notice requirement applied to faxes sent at the invitation of the recipient.  The FCC indicated that it would also entertain retroactive waivers requests from similarly situated parties filed prior to April 30, 2015. Continue Reading