Welcome to the Tech & Telecom Weekly, an e-newsletter keeping you apprised of the latest developments in the telecommunications and high-tech industries.

FCC Policy

The next FCC Open Meeting is scheduled for September 30, 2020, at 10:30am ET. The Tentative Agenda contains nine items, including a Report and Order further implementing the TRACED Act to thwart spoofed robocalls. The meeting will be live streamed here. For more information, please contact Stephanie Joyce.

Legislative Affairs

The Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property will convene a hearing titled “Are Reforms to Section 1201 Needed and Warranted?” on September 16, 2020, at 2:30 pm ET. Section 1201 of the Copyright Act. prohibits the circumvention – de-encryption – of copyright protections on electronically stored content. Scheduled witnesses include Regan Smith, General Counsel and Associate Registrar of Copyrights, U.S. Copyright Office, and Vanessa Bailey, Global Director of Intellectual Property Policy, Intel Corporation. The hearing will be live streamed here.

The House Communications Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Trump FCC: Four Years of Lost Opportunities” on September 17, 2020, at 10:00 am ET. As of last Friday afternoon, no witnesses had been announced. The hearing will be live streamed via Webex. For more information regarding these or any other legislative affairs, please contact Stephanie Joyce.

In the Courts

The Sixth Circuit ruled last week that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act cannot be used against defecting employees who misuse company trade secrets, as long as the employees were authorized to access the information when they downloaded it. The aim of the CFAA, according to the court, “is penalizing those who breach cyber barriers without permission, rather than policing those who misuse the data they are authorized to obtain.” The opinion in Royal Truck & Trailer Sales & Svc., Inc. v. Kraft deepens a circuit split that will likely be addressed when the Supreme Court decides Van Buren v. Unites States. For more information, please contact Susan Metcalfe.

Compliance Alerts

The FCC Annual Regulatory Fee is due September 25, 2020. Payment is made via the Fee Filer database. For carriers and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers, the fee is derived from the 2020 FCC Form 499-A. RespOrgs are assessed per toll-free number they use, based upon their numbering data as reported by SOMOS, the toll-free number administrator. For those entities, an assessment less than $1000 is considered de minimis, excusing them from the fee. Overdue payments are subject to a statutory 25% late payment penalty. More information regarding assessments can be found here. The Public Notice announcing the deadline can be found here. (DA 20-1035)

The FCC has instituted a streamlined procedure to request waiver, deferral, reduction, or an installment plan for the Annual Regulatory Fees for entities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Information about these processes can be found here. (DA 20-1033)

For more information regarding these or any other compliance issues, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall.

Privacy

California Governor Newsom is expected to sign into law, by September 30, a one-year delay of the California Consumer Privacy Act’s (CCPA) full application to human resources data. On August 28, 2020, California’s legislature passed A.B. 1281, which extends the exemption for human resources data from most CCPA obligations to January 1, 2022. The exemption was previously set to expire on January 1, 2021, at which point all employees would enjoy the rest of the rights that the CCPA provides to California residents. Under the current exemption, employees who are California residents enjoy limited rights under the CCPA to “notice at collection” of their personal information, and a statutory right to claim damages for unauthorized access to their personal information as a result of a data breach caused by failure to implement reasonable security measures. For more information, please contact Doug Bonner.

The Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner has removed the U.S. from its list of nations providing “adequate protection under certain circumstances” for personal information. The action essentially adopted the reasoning of the recent ruling of the European Union Court of Justice invalidating the U.S.-EU “Privacy Shield” mechanism on the grounds that U.S. law allows intelligence agencies access to personal data and does not provide for effective legal recourse by European (including Swiss) citizens. Although the FDPIC’s decision does not technically itself invalidate the U.S.-Swiss “Privacy Shield” mechanism – a power that resides instead in Swiss courts – companies must take extra steps if they wish to export personal data to the U.S. For the same reasons, the FDPIC also questioned the continued viability of the Standard Contractual Clauses mechanism. For more information, please contact William Baker.