Welcome to the Tech & Telecom Weekly, an e-newsletter keeping you apprised of the latest developments in the telecommunications and high-tech industries.
The FCC has rescinded three rules regarding telecommunications relay service (TRS): (1) the requirement to offer alternative billing options, like collect billing and credit card payments; (2) obligations to provide callers with equal access to competitive long-distance carriers; and (3) Federal Register publication for applications for certification of state TRS programs. A copy of the Report and Order can be found here (Docket No. 03-123, FCC 20-105), and the press release announcing the change can be found here. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall.
In a new study that can be downloaded here, INTERPOL reports an “alarming rate of cyberattacks during COVID-19,” and a major shift in focus from individuals and small business to large corporations, governments, and critical infrastructure. Noting that increased online dependency is creating new opportunities for cyber criminals globally, INTERPOL urges closer public-private partnerships aimed at combating threats to our collective cyber health. For more information, please contact Susan Metcalfe.
The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) announced that it will hold its August Lifeline Program Webinar on August 12, 2020, from 3:00 to 4:00 pm ET. During the webinar, participants will have the opportunity to ask questions receive updates on the Lifeline Program, including guidance on compliance filings and how to use the National Verifier and National Lifeline Accountability Databases. Interested participants can register here. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall.
USAC will also provide a separate webinar regarding its National Verifier Reverification process for providers that were in the December 2019 launch on August 13, 2020, from 3:00-4:00 pm ET. Interested parties can register here. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall.
In the Courts
Economic downturns cause employee mobility, and employee mobility typically brings trade secret litigation. According to one study, after the 2007 economic downturn, trade secret cases rose from appx. 770-1,100 during the crisis to 7,000 to 9,000 in the years that followed it. The current COVID-related downturn is unlikely to be any different: on August 4, 2020, Uber executive Anthony Scott Levandowski was sentenced, after pleading guilty to theft of trade secrets, to 18 months in prison. Given the mobility of workers during this time, companies will be well served to review procedures in place to protect their trade secrets. An ounce of prevention is far more cost effective than years of litigation. For more information, please contact Greg Ewing.
PLG Speaker Spotlights
On August 24, 2020, Potomac Law Group partner Susan Metcalfe will speak at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) in a panel session titled Location-Based Services—Possibilities, Privacy and More. The panel will focus on new tools for first responders, including advancements in 3D mapping, location systems, environmental and health sensors, and situational awareness tools. The Expo is all virtual this year, and will take place August 24-27, 2020. For more information and to register, click here.
On August 4, 2020, the European Commission announced that it will conduct a second, in-depth investigation of Google’s attempt to acquire FitBit. The Commission is concerned that the transaction will create market concentration in both online search services and “ad tech” services such as data analytics. The Commission already has determined that, in European Economic Area countries, Google holds dominant market power in online search services and “strong market position” in ad tech. For more information, please contact Stephanie Joyce.
Although the FCC has requested public comment on NTIA’s petition that the agency adopt rules, pursuant to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, to regulate how social media platforms may edit user content, two recent developments have created bumps in the road to speedy action. First, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Freedom Watch, Inc. v. Google Inc. (D.C. Cir. No. 19-7030) unanimously upheld dismissal of a lawsuit accusing leading social networks of violating the First Amendment. The Court affirmed a previous panel holding that the plaintiffs had failed to allege that the social networks are state actors subject to the First Amendment. Second, the Administration rescinded the renomination of Commissioner Michael O’Rielly for other reasons, meaning that the agency may soon be left with only four commissioners — two of whom are already on record as opposing the Administration’s petition. For more information, please contact William Baker.
Note: This publication is distributed with the understanding that the author, publisher and distributor of this publication and/or any linked publication are not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or opinions on specific facts or matters and, accordingly, assume no liability whatsoever in connection with its use. Pursuant to applicable rules of professional conduct, portions of this publication may constitute Attorney Advertising.