From the end of July through the first week of August, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau (“Bureau”) released over 30 orders adopting consent decrees with small carriers terminating investigations of possible violations of the FCC’s customer proprietary network information (“CPNI”) rules. All of the consent decrees arose from the February 2009 Omnibus Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (“Omnibus NAL”) against numerous companies, proposing forfeiture in each case of $20,000. The Omnibus NAL alleged that each of the companies had failed to submit satisfactory evidence of its timely filing of an annual CPNI compliance certification for 2007, including an explanation of any actions taken against data brokers and a summary of all customer complaints in the past year concerning unauthorized release of CPNI. Each of the companies agreed in its consent decree to adopt a plan ensuring future compliance with the CPNI rules, including the certification requirement. Each of the companies also agreed to make a voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury of $1,000. Each consent decree expires after two years.
From the end of July to September 1, the Bureau also cancelled at least 18 proposed forfeitures for alleged CPNI certification violations. Most of the cancellations arose from allegations in the Omnibus NAL. The Bureau determined that the companies involved either had timely filed proper CPNI compliance certifications for 2007 or were not subject to the certification requirement then.
On July 30, the Bureau released an order adopting a consent decree with Pinnacle Systems, Inc. terminating an investigation of possible violations of the FCC’s “V-Chip” rules, which require that all television receivers shipped in interstate commerce allow blocking of programming based on its content and be able to respond to changes in the content advisory rating system. Pinnacle’s response to a letter of inquiry indicated that it may have shipped a number of personal computer digital television tuners that were not in compliance with the V-Chip rules. Under the consent decree, Pinnacle agreed to establish a compliance plan in which Pinnacle will notify its customers that it will provide a software patch to supply the missing V-Chip functionality at no cost and will file periodic compliance reports with the Bureau. The consent decree’s requirements will terminate after two years. Pinnacle also agreed to make a voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury of $25,000.
During August 4-6, the Bureau also released three orders relating to enforcement of the FCC’s “junk fax” rules. The Bureau released forfeiture orders against First Alliance Security and Universal Roofing for sending unsolicited advertisements to consumers’ telephone facsimile machines. In both cases, the Bureau received complaints that consumers had received unsolicited faxes after the Bureau had issued citations to the companies. Neither company responded to a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (“NAL”) proposing a forfeiture for the post-citation faxes. Following the base penalty amount of $4,500 per violation used in prior junk fax cases, the FCC imposed a forfeiture of $13,500 on First Alliance and $4,500 on Universal Roofing. The Bureau cancelled an NAL for $18,000 previously issued against Venali, Inc., finding that Venali had presented a reasonable showing that neither it nor customers using its services had transmitted the faxes involved in the NAL or more recent complaints.