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

Today at 10:00 am ET, the Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment (ACDDE) and the FCC Media Bureau will convene an online event titled Workshop Examining the Role of Libraries on Broadband Adoption and Literacy. The Agenda is available here, and the link for livestreaming is here. For more information, contact Stephanie Joyce.

The next FCC Open Meeting is August 6, 2020, at 10:30 am ET. The final Agenda contains five items, described hereFor more information, contact Stephanie Joyce.
As previously reported, the FCC is seeking comment on its continued implementation of the TRACED Act to encourage blocking of illegal robocalling. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking has been published, and comments are now due August 31, 2020, with reply comments due September 29, 2020. The FCC proposes an affirmative obligation of voice service providers to “respond to certain traceback requests, mitigate bad traffic, and take affirmative measures to prevent customers from originating illegal calls[.]” The FCC also proposes to extend its safe harbor to voice providers who block calls based on “reasonable analytics” to include network-based blocking without consumers having to opt in or out. For more information, please contact Doug Bonner.


The European Data Protection Board recently issued FAQs, available here, emphasizing that the EU Court of Justice’s invalidation in Schrems II of the “Privacy Shield” immediately invalidated all transfers of personal data from the EU to the United States which had relied on that basis. Consequently, U.S. companies seeking to import personal data from the EU must have a different legal basis for those transfers, most likely the Standard Contractual Clauses which the Schrems II decision upheld in concept. However, the EDPB also affirmed that Schrems II requires that U.S. companies relying on the Standard Contractual Clauses must make an additional determination that appropriate safeguards exist (beyond the SCCs) before making the transfers. Just what might comprise the “additional determination” will vary on a case-by-case basis, and close consultation with legal counsel is highly recommended. For more information, please contact William Baker.

Compliance Alerts

The FCC announced a new deadline of August 7, 2020 , for certain price cap and competitive eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) that receive legacy high-cost support from the federal Universal Service Fund to file their annual FCC Form 481, which reports on the filer’s operations and financials for the previous year. The filing is made through a portal maintained by the Universal Service Administrative Service, Inc. here. The Public Notice announcing the filing deadline can be found here . For more information, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall. (DA 20-88).

The FCC Enforcement Bureau requests that voice services providers and USTelecom’s Industry Traceback Group submit information regarding privately-led efforts to trace back the source of suspected unlawful robocalls by November 15, 2020 . Under the TRACED Act, the Commission is required to issue a report on such efforts annually. The Public Notice can be found here . For more information, contact Katherine Barker Marshall . (DA-20-786). 

In the Courts

“Even when it promises to look away, Google is watching.” That’s the thrust of the latest class action privacy suit against the tech giant, filed last month in the Northern District of California. Calling Google a “voyeur extraordinaire,” the complaint in Rodriguez v. Google LLC and Alphabet Inc . asserts claims for invasion of privacy and violations of the Federal Wire Tap Act, along with two sections of the California Penal Code. The alleged wrongdoing centers around a software development kit (“SDK”) called Firebase, which Google purchased as part of its acquisition of Firebase, Inc. in 2014. Firebase is a tool that enhances Android apps, but according to the complaint, Google is using it to “aggressively track what consumers browse, see, create, and share online when using the apps installed on their mobile devices.” For more information, please contact Susan Metcalfe.

The American Bar Association recently announced guidance on third-party litigation finance. Litigation financing has grown considerably over the past two decades and enables parties to support litigation of their rights where they may not be able to do so themselves or where they seek to share the risk of litigation with others. The ABA’s B est Practices include ensuring any agreement is in writing, that the client maintain control of the case, that the funding agreement address common situations that arise in funded litigation, and that all parties remember that disclosure of the funding arrangement may be required. The Best Practices will aid in the development of legitimate claims that might otherwise go unaddressed while minimizing illegitimate claims. For more information, please contact Greg Ewing.

Legislative Affairs

On August 5, 2020, at 10:00 am ET, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold its oversight hearing on the Federal Trade Commission. All five FTC Commissioners are scheduled to testify. The hearing will be livestreamed here. For more information, please contact Stephanie Joyce.

Last week, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced S. 4437, the Behavioral Advertising Decisions Are Downgrading Services Act (or “BAD ADS Act”), which would amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, in a new subsection (c)(3), by stripping immunity from sites that “serve or deliver” targeted ads to users. A copy of the bill is available here. For more information, please contact Stephanie Joyce.


Election-related cybersecurity is at the top of the news, with updates last week to the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Election Security Resource Library. CISA provides free cybersecurity assessments and training to protect the “vital national interest” of election security. In addition, the 4th Annual Voting Machine Hacking Village is coming up at the Def Con virtual conference the weekend of August 6-9, 2020. Def Con VMHV, which bills itself as “the only public third-party assessment of voting infrastructure in the world,” invites hackers to identify vulnerabilities by trying to hack into voting machines and reporting the results. And the University of Chicago Election Cyber Surge program is now recruiting tech-expert volunteers to help state and local voting officials detect and prevent cyberattacks. For more information, please contact Eliza Hall.

Tribal Nations

The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has extended the Rural Tribal Priority Window by 30 days, to September 2, 2020, finding that an extension is “in the public interest, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.” In the Order, available here , the Bureau stated that a longer extension is not warranted, noting that rural Tribes have submitted at least 229 application to date, with more saved in the ULS system. It also stated that any further extension of time would unreasonably delay the acceptance of applications and the issuance of licenses, and delay the beginning of a commercial auction of 2.5 GHz spectrum. For more information, please contact Doug Bonner.

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.

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Marlene Laro

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