Over the last several years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been taking a more active role both in anticipating the need for ever greater communications network security measures necessary to counter threats as well as potentially forging a new role in protecting the integrity of data that flows through the Internet. The latest evidence of this security consciousness is a recent Notice of Inquiry (“Notice”) adopted by the FCC seeking information to better understand the scope of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing system security vulnerabilities, and the means to address them.
On the eve of the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Alan Davidson as the new Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), NTIA published a request for public comments on January 10, 2022, on a range of broadband infrastructure issues, paving the way for Davidson’s reported top priority in his term. The request is the first of a series, which together are to establish three new NTIA programs under the appropriations from the November 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, the “Middle Mile Infrastructure” Program, and the Digital Equity Inclusion Program.
Following up on a mandatory 2019 request for information issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to the largest Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the United States, the FTC staff in late October issued a Report titled – A Look at What ISPs Know About You: Examining the Privacy Practices of Six Major Internet Service Providers. Among the agency staff’s general findings on ISP data collection and use practices, the most striking perhaps is the apparent degree of integration among ISPs and advertisers with respect to their data collection and use practices. The report also highlights the tools ISPs offer to customers to either manage or control many types of ISP data collection and use.
The information presented in the Report is aggregated and de-identified and has been supplemented with information gathered from follow-up FTC staff questions and meetings with the ISPs that were the subjects of the FTC information request. The Report’s summary of information on real-world ISP data practices could prove useful as Congress wrestles with the potential for federal privacy legislation and states review the need for legislation.
During his presidential campaign, President Biden committed “to build back better in rural America” by “expand[ing] broadband, or wireless broadband via 5G, to every American.” Last month, President Biden renewed his focus on “universal broadband” through the announcement of a bipartisan agreement for a large infrastructure bill that highlights broadband connectivity. Between setting the goal and realizing congressional appropriations to implement his “Build Back Better” initiative, federal (and in some situations, state) regulators have also confronted several important broadband infrastructure issues this year as they balance an understandable desire for competition and choice among broadband networks and service offerings against the practical challenges and economic realities of broadband deployment. What progress has the Biden Administration made so far?
Broadband is more important now than ever. According to a 2021 report by Parks Associates, 41% of US broadband households have been working or attending schools remotely, with the COVID-19 pandemic having driven approximately 7.2% of those households to upgrade their broadband network last year. Terabytes of data are communicated and shared every second through broadband Internet platforms – the most ubiquitous means of communication and connection.
Following on from last week’s big announcement by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) on its expectations for international data transfers after the European Court of Justice’s July 16 Schrems II decision, the European Commission released a draft set of new Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) and a draft implementing decision. The Commission’s draft set of clauses allows for two new types of transfer and contains important updates to bring the text of the clauses in line with the General Data Protection Regulation. The draft documents are now available for public consultation, and both the EDPB and the European Data Protection Supervisor will be asked for their opinions on the documents. Following the Schrems II decision, many organizations have been waiting for guidance on additional safeguards and for the (long overdue) arrival of updated Standard Contractual Clauses. While the last few days have seen some welcome developments after a period of hiatus, organizations will likely need some time to assess the practical implications before making radical changes to international data transfer arrangements.
For the full alert, visit the Faegre Drinker website.
On October 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit released a long awaited decision in Mozilla Corporation v. FCC that largely upheld most aspects of the Federal Communications Commission’s 2018 “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” While FCC Chairman Pai quickly claimed victory, the nearly 200 page decision was in several areas quite critical of the FCC’s process, as well as the agency’s reasoning or the lack of discussion or support in the record for several of the Order’s determinations. Although these defects were not sufficient for the Court to reverse the Order on review, the Court nevertheless agreed with petitioners on several issues, discussed below, and remanded them to the agency for additional consideration.