Key Regulatory Dates

FCC Open Commission Meeting, May 15, 2014

  • The FCC’s next Open Commission Meeting is scheduled for May 15, 2014 at 10:30 am. For more information, including the tentative agenda, which still includes the much-anticipated open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, for which the Sunshine Period prohibition has been waived until midnight on May 14, 2014, click here.

TRS Fund Comments Due May 23, 2014

  • The FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) is seeking comments about the Interstate TRS Fund administrator’s proposed provider compensation rates, funding requirement, and carrier contribution factor — 0.01174% — for the period from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. Comments are due May 23, 2014. Reply comments are due June 3, 2014.

FCC 911 Reliability Workshop, June 2, 2014

  • On June 2, 2014, the FCC will hold a workshop on the process for submitting annual certifications regarding a covered entity’s compliance with the Commission’s 911 reliability rules. Under these rules, covered entities are required to annually certify whether they are in compliance with specified best practices, or their reasonable alternatives, to mitigate risk of 911 failure in three areas: (1) backup power for central offices that directly serve a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP); (2) critical 911 circuit diversity, and (3) diverse network monitoring. Covered entities include those who provide 911, E911, or NG911 capabilities and those that provide services directly to PSAPs. This workshop will include a presentation from Homeland Security Bureau Staff on the proposed development of a certification process, including a question-and-answer session with attendees. The pre-registration deadline is May 27, 2014, and the FCC has set up a webpage for pre-registrations, which can be found here. More information can be found in the Public Notice announcing the workshop here. (DA 14-582)

Key Industry Events

Share, May 13–14, 2014

  • For more information on the Share event in San Francisco, at which Arent Fox Partner Ross Buntrock will be speaking on the panel entitled “From Reactive to Proactive: Strategies for Engaging Regulators and Governments on Sharing Economy Issues,” click here.

Emerging Legal Issues for Social Entrepreneurs Panel in Connection with 1776 Challenge Festival, May 14, 2014

  • For more information on this panel discussion being held at the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., which is being moderated by Arent Fox attorney David Carter, click here.

Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference, June 8–10, 2014, “The Internet Wants to Be Free” (Airlie Center, Warrenton, VA)

  • Stephanie Joyce, Partner in our Group, will speak on a Net Neutrality panel at this event. For more information, click here.

News Roundup

TCPA Plaintiff Ordered to “STOP ALL” His Class Claims

  • On May 5, 2014, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida denied a motion for class certification in an action filed against Voice Media Group, Inc. (“VMG”), a company that provides an alert service that sends advertisements and promotions via text message. The plaintiff had originally subscribed to this service, but later tried to unsubscribe by sending “STOP ALL” and variations on the phrase “STOP ALL” to VMG by text. The plaintiff claimed that VMG continued to send him text messages even after this. He brought a suit for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) on behalf of a class of individuals who had also sent a “STOP ALL” message to VMG but continued to receive text messages from it. The court reviewed the plaintiff’s motion for class certification and denied it because the plaintiff had failed to demonstrate that the class was sufficiently numerous. The court noted that the plaintiff could count only 1,026 individuals who had texted “STOP ALL” to VMG during the relevant time period, and among those individuals, the plaintiff had no evidence that was not based entirely on speculation pertaining to how many of those individuals continued to receive messages from VMG after texting “STOP ALL.” The court held that because the plaintiff had provided no competent evidence that could be used to even estimate the size of the class, he could not satisfy the numerosity requirement. Legg v. Voice Media Grp., Inc., 13-62044-CIV, 2014 WL 1766961 (S.D. Fla. May 5, 2014).

FTC Says Snapchat Not So Private After All

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced a tentative settlement agreement with Snapchat amid allegations that Snapchat has deceived consumers. Snapchat is a popular mobile messaging app that lets people send photos, videos, and messages that disappear in a few seconds. According to the FTC, Snapchat marketed the app’s central feature as the user’s ability to send communications that would “disappear forever" after a set time period. The FTC claims, however, that there were several ways that a recipient could save the messages and that Snapchat’s claims were inaccurate. The FTC also alleges that Snapchat misrepresented its data-collection practices by transmitting geolocation information from users of its Android app and collecting certain users’ contacts information from their address books without their notice or consent. Under the terms of its settlement with the FTC, Snapchat will be prohibited from misrepresenting its privacy practices and will be required to implement a comprehensive privacy program that will be monitored by an independent privacy professional for the next 20 years. The FTC also reported that its investigation of Snapchat was part of a multi-national enforcement sweep on mobile app privacy by members of the Global Privacy Enforcement Network, a cross-border coalition of privacy enforcement authorities. The FTC is accepting public comment on the proposed settlement until June 9, 2014. More information is available here.

FTC Seeks Comment on the State of Mobile Security

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued a request for public comments to further explore issues raised by last year’s FTC forum examining the state of mobile security. Any interested parties should file comments by May 30, 2014. The FTC is seeking comments on four aspects of mobile security: (1) secure platform design; (2) secure distribution channels; (3) secure development practices; and (4) security lifecycle and updates. In addition to the FTC’s efforts to investigate mobile security and the use of consumer information through mobile channels, the Obama Administration has set up a privacy working group that includes the Department of Commerce, among other agencies, that is poised to propose federal legislation related to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights issued by the President in 2012, available here.

FCC Issues FNPRM on Spectrum-Sharing Techniques

  • The FCC has adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) aimed at using spectrum-sharing techniques to make more spectrum available for wireless broadband services. The spectrum would be available for consumer use, carrier-grade small-cell deployments, as well as wireless broadband services. The FCC sees this as an opportunity to test innovative spectrum-sharing techniques, which could later be extended to other spectrum bands. Access and operation, which would occur in the 3.5 GHz band, would be managed to avoid interference with existing users of the spectrum by a spectrum access system, which is described as a dynamic database that incorporates technical and functional requirements to manage access and operations on the spectrum. The FNPRM seeks comment on technical, auction, and allocation rules. Comments will be due 40 days after publication of the FNPRM in the Federal Register, and Reply Comments will be due 20 days later. Docket No. GN Docket No. 12-354. The FNPRM and comments from the Commissioners are available here.