Supreme Court Permits TCPA Lawsuits in Federal Court

By David A. Tallman 

The Supreme Court has conclusively determined that private plaintiffs may bring Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) claims in federal court, resolving a conflict among the federal circuit courts of appeal. On January 18, 2012, in Mims v. Arrow Financial Services, the Court held that both federal and state courts have jurisdiction to hear private rights of action under the TCPA.

The TCPA and its implementing regulations place various restrictions on automated telephone calls and telemarketing calls, including limitations on calls to wireless numbers using an automated telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice, placing artificial or prerecorded messages to residential telephone numbers, sending unsolicited faxes, using an automated dialing system to engage multiple business lines simultaneously, and making telemarketing calls to telephone numbers on national or company-specific Do-Not-Call lists. The TCPA permits individuals and state authorities to bring private rights of action to recover actual and statutory damages and also authorizes administrative enforcement by the FCC.

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K&L Gates Global Government Solutions Report Includes Articles on Key TMT, Privacy and Patent Developments

K&L Gates recently published its Global Government Solutions 2011 Annual Outlook, which contains articles from around the firm on key governmental developments expected in 2011.

The Annual Outlook includes an article addressing developments affecting the Telecom, Media and Technology sector in 2011 by DC partners Marc Martin and Marty Stern, noting that the TMT sector enters 2011 with significant regulatory uncertainty and the FCC facing an uphill battle on many signature regulatory initiatives.

The article reviews the FCC’s net neutrality order and the challenges it faces in court and on Capitol Hill, discusses the recent FCC and Department of Justice approvals of the Comcast/NBCU transaction, and a number of additional issues getting significant focus in 2011. These include retransmission consent battles between broadcasters and cable/DBS providers and the FCC’s expected rulemaking proceeding on this issue, the Commission’s implementation of new communications accessibility requirements under the new 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, and continued efforts to reform the Universal Service Fund and make it broadband-centric.

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CALEA II - Bigger and Badder?

Recent leaks to the New York Times, as reported in September and October, indicate that the Obama administration will next year be pushing for sweeping expansions of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).  CALEA facilitates government surveillance by, among other things, requiring companies subject to the law both to design their systems so that the government can easily plug in and intercept communications in real-time and to provide assistance to the government in these efforts. 

 

A task force comprised of representatives from DOJ, Commerce, the FBI, and other agencies, are discussing amendments to the law.  These changes would greatly expand the reach of CALEA, would significantly increase the costs of non-compliance for covered companies, and would include other requirements which may fundamentally change business models for companies promising encryption and decentralized communication services.    

 

 

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Broadband in America: The Year in Review; What Lies Ahead

K&L Gates co-hosted a live webcast December 22, carried live on Internet TV channels Broadband US TV and National League of Cities TV.

You can access the free webcast by clicking here (free registration is required).

K&L Gates partner Marty Stern joined co-host Jim Baller, together with guests Cecilia Kang, Communications Industry Journalist, the Washington PostGigi Sohn, President, Public Knowledge,  Jeffrey Silva, Senior Policy Director, TMT, Medley Global Advisors, and  Scott Cleland, President, the Precursor Group, for a lively and provocative review of 2010, particularly of the day-old FCC net neutrality decision, and for some bold predictions for 2011.

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Live Webcast: Spurring Adoption and Use of Broadband

K&L Gates co-hosted a live webcast October 7, carried live on Internet TV channels Broadband US TV and National League of Cities TV.

You can access the free webcast by clicking here (registration is required).

Stakeholders in America's broadband future disagree on most issues, but not on this: with 35% of Americans not using broadband today and many others not using broadband to maximum advantage, spurring increased adoption and use is critically important to America's success in the emerging knowledge-based global economy.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn kicked off the program, joining BroadbandUS TV hosts Marty Stern and Jim Baller for a provocative discussion ofthe FCC's goals, activities, and progress in this area.

The program also included a panel on National Policy and Support, featuring Karen Peltz Strauss, FCC Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau; Emy Tseng, National Telecommunications and Information Administration; Dr. Kenneth Peres, Communications Workers of America and US Broadband Coalition; Nicol Turner-Lee, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; and John Windhausen, Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition. A second panel featured a look at success stories from around the country.

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FCC Seeks Comment on its "Third Way" Approach to Regulating Broadband Internet Service

by Marc S. Martin, Martin L. Stern, Peter W. Denton

On June 17, 2010, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) adopted a Notice of Inquiry (the “NOI”) seeking comment on the Commission’s consideration of the appropriate legal framework for broadband Internet service, and in particular the “Internet connectivity component” of that service.[1]   Comments on the NOI are due by July 15, 2010, with Reply Comments due by August 12, 2010.

The NOI is the latest step in a contentious debate between the Commission and broadband Internet access providers (e.g., cable, telco and wireless broadband providers) over the Commission’s legal authority to regulate broadband Internet service.  As discussed in our previous alerts, on April 6, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned an FCC enforcement action against Comcast Corporation arising from allegations that Comcast engaged in unreasonable and discriminatory broadband management practices.[2]   The Commission had previously classified Comcast’s cable modem broadband Internet service as a largely unregulated “information service” under Title I of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the “Communications Act”), but asserted indirect “ancillary” authority to enforce certain net neutrality guidelines against broadband Internet access providers.  The court in Comcast ruled that the Commission, based on its prior decision classifying cable modem service as an unregulated information service, lacked direct statutory authority to regulate broadband Internet service, and therefore could not rely on its ancillary jurisdiction to do so.

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