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 issued a Report and Order requiring specific identification of foreign governments, political parties, or agents when they provide or promise “money, service, or other valuable consideration” to a U.S. broadcast station “in exchange for the airing of material provided by a foreign governmental entity.” The operative terms in the new rules will be governed by the definitions in the Foreign Agent Registration Act, 22 U.S.C. § 611. Acting Chair Jessica Rosenworcel stated that the new rules are “about national security and the preservation of our democratic values,” noting that the Chinese and Russian governments have been buying airtime “right here in our nation’s capital” for “several years.” For more information, please contact Stephanie Joyce.
In further implementation of the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, the FCC has opened its Robocall Mitigation Database and requires voice service providers to submit the information regarding their robocall mitigation plans by June 30, 2021. This deadline will allow intermediate and terminating service providers to reject traffic from voice service providers that are not listed in the Robocall Mitigation Database beginning on September 28, 2021. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall.
For the first time, the Employee Benefits Security Administration has issued cybersecurity guidance for ERISA-covered plans. EBSA estimates that there are 34 million defined benefit plan participants and 106 million defined contribution plan participants in private pension plans that together hold assets of approximately $9.3 trillion (as of 2018). The guidance is intended to mitigate the internal and external security risks to these participants and assets. EBSA issued three sets of guidelines: Tips for Hiring a Service Provider; Cyber Security Best Program Practices; and Online Security Tips for Participants and Beneficiaries. For more information, please contact Marci Lerner Miller.
In the Courts
In another 9-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the FTC cannot seek the equitable remedies of restitution and disgorgement under the auspices of the injunctive relief allowed by Section 13(b) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 53(b). In AMG Capital Management, LLC v. FTC, the Court heard the appeal of a payday loan company that was hit with an order to disgorge $1.27 Billion unlawfully gained via deceptive loan practices. The Ninth Circuit had rejected AMG’s argument that Section 13(b) does not authorize such relief. The Supreme Court reversed on the ground that Section 13(b) permits the FTC to seek only a “permanent injunction,” in contrast to other FTC Act provisions that authorize “refund of money or property.” The FTC admitted that it “brings dozens of § 13(b) cases every year” seeking monetary penalties, which cases now are imperiled by the Court’s decision. For more information, please contact Stephanie Joyce.
As previously reported, the application window for Round 2 of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program will open April 29, 2021, at 12:00pm ET and close May 6, 2021, at 12:00pm ET. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) will hold several webinars to assist healthcare providers with the application process: an overview of program eligibility on April 26, 2021, at 2:00pm ET; special training for prospective Tribal applicants on April 26, 2021, at 4:30pm ET; and review of the application requirements on April 28, 2021, at 1:00pm ET. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall.
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