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TMT Law Watch

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

Railroad to Pay $5.25 Million For Operating Licenses Without FCC Approval

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 By Jenny Paul and Marty Stern

Canadian National Railway Company agreed to pay a civil penalty of $5.25 million to settle the Federal Communications Commission’s investigation into its acquisition and operation of hundreds of wireless radio facilities without FCC approval.  The $5.25 million penalty is the largest fine levied in FCC history for unauthorized radio operations and transfers of control.
 

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DOT Initiates Process to Mandate Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications Technology In New Vehicles

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By Tom DeCesar, Ed Fishman, Cliff Rothenstein and Marty Stern 

A new federal proposal would require new passenger cars and trucks to contain vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology, which uses radio communications to allow vehicles to “talk” to each other and, for example, warn drivers of safety hazards.  Cars that have this technology installed can communicate without the active involvement of a driver or passengers.  Proponents believe this technology also can be used to reduce vehicle emissions, fuel consumption and traffic congestion.  V2V is seen by many as an important part of the new wave of intelligent transportation systems, which will offer improved safety and functionality in the U.S. surface transportation network.
 
 

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FTC Approves Children’s Online Privacy Compliance Program

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By Jenny Paul

The Federal Trade Commission has approved a new safe harbor program, called the iKeepSafe Safe Harbor Program, that websites and other online services may use to comply with its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act rule. 

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COPPA Parental Consent Expanded by FTC

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By Debbie Wong* and Nickolas Milonas

The Federal Trade Commission recently expanded the options for obtaining verifiable parental consent (“VPC”) under recent revisions to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.  COPPA requires covered websites and online services to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting information on children under 13.  The VPC method must be reasonably calculated to ensure that the person giving consent is the child’s parent.  While the rule enumerates several acceptable methods for obtaining parental consent, changes to the rule that took effect last July allow for FTC approval of new VPC methods.  As we previously reported, the FTC has already approved and rejected new VPC methods under the revised rule.

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FCC Requires Closed Captioning for Online Video Clips from Televised Programming

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By Jenny Paul and Marty Stern 

The Federal Communications Commission adopted an
order at its July meeting that extends its closed captioning requirements to online video clips from previously televised programming.

The new online closed captioning requirements will apply to video clips that a video programming distributor posts on its website or app and that it had previously televised in the United States with captions.  The requirements will not apply to the extent that a video clip posted online contains an audio track that is substantially different from that aired on television.  The requirements also do not currently apply to situations where a third-party programming provider, such as Hulu, posts clips from programming televised by a third party, although the FCC also asks for comment in a companion notice of proposed rulemaking whether the online video closed captioning requirements should be extended to those third-party providers as well.

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California Attorney General Offers Online and Mobile ‘Do Not Track’ Privacy Policy Recommendations

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 By Jonathan D. Jaffe and Jeremy M. McLaughlin

California Attorney General Kamala Harris recently issued guidance to help companies provide more “meaningful” privacy policies. Entitled “Making Your Privacy Practices Public,” the recommendations consolidate previously issued guidance and provide new information regarding online tracking and Do Not Track signals. As the guidance document indicates, the recommendations “are not regulations, mandates or legal opinions” and offer greater protections than those required under existing law. Clearly, though, they reflect the attorney general’s preferences and what she believes are privacy best practices.

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Police Need Warrant to Search Cell Phones, Supreme Court Says

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By Elyse Schoenfeld* and Nickolas Milonas

In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court held last week that police generally must have a warrant to search digital information on a cell phone seized during an arrest.  The decision in the case, Riley v. California, reflects the pervasive role of cell phones in everyday life and the intimate details they contain, and suggests that in future decisions the Court will treat data searches differently from searches of physical objects. 

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Aereo Grounded by Recent Supreme Court Opinion

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By Krista Consiglio* and Nickolas Milonas

On Wednesday, June 25, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that Aereo violates television broadcasters’ exclusive public performance rights under the 1976 Copyright Act.  Aereo offered streaming broadcast TV programming over the Internet to customers in ten U.S. cities for a monthly fee, without paying retransmission fees to broadcasters that cable companies are required to pay for carrying broadcast programming.  

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Frequently Asked Questions About Net Neutrality

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By Marc MartinJenny Paul, and Elyse Schoenfeld*

Net neutrality has been a contentious policy issue for many years. Like many such issues, it is subject to political spin, conflicting academic analyses, and industry and consumer group advocacy. As a result, much of the reporting on net neutrality leaves the underlying facts distorted and confusing. We have designed this FAQ as a handy resource to clarify the contested history of net neutrality, what net neutrality regulations are intended to accomplish, and what the FCC is considering in this sphere.  The FAQs begin after the jump.

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Connected Vehicles and Drones Get Boost From New Federal Research Programs

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 By Tom DeCesar, Ed Fishman, Cliff Rothenstein and Marty Stern

Through the implementation of new pilot research programs, the U.S. Department of Transportation has placed itself in the middle of two of the transportation industry’s most significant innovations: connected vehicles and commercial drones.

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