In a pair of Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture this week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a collective $8 million in fines against telecommunications company Lingo Telecom and political consultant Steven Kramer.

Robocalls, Generative AI, and Deepfakes

The FCC alleges Kramer violated the Truth in Caller ID Act. According to the FCC, two days before the New Hampshire 2024 presidential primary election, Kramer orchestrated a campaign of illegally spoofed and malicious robocalls that carried a deepfake audio recording of President Biden’s cloned voice telling prospective voters not to vote in the upcoming primary.

To transmit the calls, he worked with voice service provider Lingo Telecom, which incorrectly labeled the calls with the highest level of caller ID attestation, making it less likely that other telecommunications providers would detect the calls as potentially spoofed. For this reason, the FCC is also pursuing forfeiture against Lingo, alleging a violation of the STIR/SHAKEN rules for failing to use reasonable “Know Your Customer” protocols to verify caller ID information in connection with Kramer’s alleged illegal robocalls.Continue Reading FCC Proposes $8 Million in Fines Against Telecom Company and Political Consultant for Using Deepfake Generative Artificial Intelligence

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) agreed this week to cooperate and coordinate consumer protection efforts in enforcing the FCC’s reinstated “net neutrality” rules. The agencies stated in a Memorandum of Understanding that they will share legal, technical, and investigative expertise and experience in enforcing the rules.

The reinstated rules, adopted on April 25, formally reclassify internet service providers’ broadband services as “Telecommunications Services” under Title II of the Communications Act, rather than as a less-regulated Title I “Information service.” With this change in status, the FCC also reinstates specific proscriptive rules against blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid preference for certain network traffic, and re-adopts a “general conduct” standard barring unreasonable interference with consumers or providers that provide content and services.Continue Reading FCC and FTC to Cooperate in Enforcing Reinstated Net Neutrality Rules

On March 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted new rules that require cable television operators and satellite video providers to specify the aggregate monthly all-in price for video programming services on customer bills, any advertising, and all promotional materials in a “clear, easy-to-understand, and accurate single line-item.”

The price must include all charges for broadcast stations, sports programming, and any other programming. Other line items such as taxes, administrative fees, equipment fees, franchise fees, and fees for public, educational, and governmental (PEG) channels are not required to be part of the all-in price.Continue Reading FCC Adopts Video Service All-In Pricing Rules

Cybersecurity and data protection is front and center on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) agenda. The latest manifestation of this is the FCC’s issuance of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on August 25, 2023, which seeks comments on a proposed voluntary cybersecurity labeling program for Internet of Things (IoT) devices or products.

Companies that volunteer to join the proposed program would have their qualifying products bear a new “U.S. Cyber Trust Mark,” which the agency believes would help consumers identify trustworthy products and make informed purchasing decisions, incentivizing better cybersecurity standards. There are a couple of aspects of the NPRM that are worth highlighting.Continue Reading What’s in a Label? FCC Begins Rulemaking Procedure for Cybersecurity Labeling on IoT Devices

Last week, the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture proposing a $20 million forfeiture, essentially a fine, against two telecommunications service providers for failing to properly authenticate customers’ identity before providing online access to Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI). CPNI includes sensitive data, such as called phone numbers, the length and time of calls, and service features. FCC rules mandate that companies handling such information use “reasonable measures” to guard access to CPNI.

Because it would be easy for third parties to impersonate customers and gain access to their CPNI, FCC rules prohibit the use of readily available biographical information or account information. “Readily available biographical information” includes “information drawn from the customer’s life history and includes such things as the customer’s social security number . . . mother’s maiden name; home address; or date of birth.” Account information is “information that is specifically connected to the customer’s service relationship with the carrier, including such things as an account number or any component thereof, the telephone number associated with the account, or the bill’s amount.” FCC rules thus requires service providers to authenticate customer identity without the use of the above information and then require a password.Continue Reading FCC Proposes $20 Million Forfeiture Against Telecommunications Service Providers for Failing to Protect User Data

As we recently previewed, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published its Proposed Rule that would codify its updated guidance on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA regulates calls and text messages sent using automated technology and is frequently litigated. Below are the major proposed rule changes on which the FCC seeks comment.Continue Reading FCC Releases Proposed Rule for Codifying Updates to the TCPA

On Tuesday the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to require cable operators and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to specify an “all-in” total price for their video service, both in their promotional materials and on subscribers’ bills.

The proposal is intended to help consumers understand the complete cost of video service, to provide consumers with the ability to comparison shop among competing service providers and to compare programming costs against those of alternative programming providers, such as streaming services.

The proposal builds upon the recently implemented Broadband Nutrition Label requirement, which demands that broadband Internet providers display easy-to-understand service performance labels akin to food labels. The proposal is also consistent with the broader federal effort driven by the White House to eliminate so-called junk fees across a variety of industries. Such fees are service provider mandatory fees that are not fully disclosed in provider marketing/advertisements and that later surprise consumers when they are billed.Continue Reading FCC Proposes “All-In” Video Service Advertising Rules for Cable and Satellite TV

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking intending to strengthen consumers’ ability to revoke consent to receive both robocalls and robotexts, in addition to strengthening callers’/texters’ obligations to honor such requests in a timely manner.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) restricts callers from making robocalls and robotexts unless they have received the prior express consent of the called party, subject to a couple of exemptions. The FCC’s proposed action would broaden a consumer’s ability to revoke consent in “any reasonable way.” For example, simply using words such as “stop,” “revoke,” “end,” or “opt out” in response to a call or text would create a presumption, absent contrary evidence, that the consumer has revoked consent.Continue Reading FCC Proposes Codifying New TCPA Consent Rules in Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

As part of a broader campaign to go after “robocall” violations, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a $5,134,500 fine against a company and its owners for making 1,141 robocalls in 2020 that violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The company told recipients of the robocalls that if they voted by mail, their personal information would “be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts.” The case is a strong reminder that political calling campaigns are also subject to the TCPA.

Both the TCPA and the FCC’s rules prohibit prerecorded voice calls to wireless telephone numbers without the recipients’ prior express consent, and this is true regardless of the caller’s intent. These restrictions apply equally to both telemarketing and informational calls, including all non-commercial and political calls. The only exception is for calls that are made for an emergency purpose.Continue Reading FCC Levies $5 Million Fine for Political Calling Campaign That Violated the TCPA