Navigating the New Cybersecurity Terrain: Implications of the FCC’s Latest Rule on Security Breach Notifications

Mandelbaum Barrett PC

Mandelbaum Barrett PC


On February 12, 2024, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finalized a critical cybersecurity rule, Sec. 64.2011, mandating telecommunications carriers and TRS (Telecommunications Relay Services) providers to adhere to strict guidelines concerning the notification of security breaches. This rule signifies a pivotal shift in the regulatory landscape, imposing new compliance obligations that will fundamentally alter how covered entities manage and report cybersecurity incidents. Let’s dissect the rule’s nuances to understand its impact on the industry from a cybersecurity perspective.

Commission and Federal Law Enforcement Notification:

The rule mandates immediate electronic notification to the FCC, the United States Secret Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) within seven business days after a reasonable determination of a breach. This requirement underscores the urgency and seriousness with which the FCC views the threat landscape, aiming to ensure that federal entities are promptly informed to possibly assist in mitigating any further risks or damages.

Critical Points for Covered Entities:

  1. Detailed Reporting Requirements: Notifications must include comprehensive details about the breach, including the carrier’s contact information, a description of the incident, the method of compromise, and the types of data breached. This level of detail necessitates that carriers maintain meticulous records of their cybersecurity incidents and the data involved, which could pose logistical challenges in the aftermath of a breach.
  2. Delayed Disclosure Provision: The rule allows for a delay in public disclosure or customer notification if it would impede or compromise ongoing criminal investigations or national security. This provision offers a delicate balance between transparency and the integrity of law enforcement efforts but requires entities to navigate complex considerations around when and how information about breaches can be disclosed.
  3. Exemptions and Thresholds: Entities are exempt from reporting breaches affecting fewer than 500 customers if no harm is likely to occur. However, this exemption demands a rigorous assessment of the breach’s impact, potentially requiring legal and cybersecurity expertise to determine the likelihood of harm accurately.
  4. Customer Notification: Affected customers must be notified no later than 30 days after the breach determination, unless specific exemptions apply. This requirement emphasizes the importance of customer communication and transparency in the aftermath of a security incident.
  5. Recordkeeping and Annual Reporting: The rule mandates extensive recordkeeping for at least two years and annual reporting of certain small breaches. These administrative duties add another layer of complexity to the compliance efforts of telecommunications carriers and TRS providers, necessitating robust data management and documentation processes.

Implications for Cybersecurity Practices:

The new FCC rule highlights a growing recognition of the critical importance of cybersecurity within the telecommunications sector. Covered entities must now adopt a proactive approach to cybersecurity, emphasizing not only the technical aspects of preventing breaches but also the procedural and administrative mechanisms for responding to incidents. This includes developing comprehensive incident response plans, enhancing data encryption practices, and ensuring that all staff are trained on the importance of data security and the legal obligations for breach reporting.


FCC rule Sec. 64.2011 represents a significant development in the regulatory framework governing cybersecurity practices within the telecommunications industry. For covered entities, the rule not only raises the bar for cybersecurity hygiene but also imposes a focused set of obligations that require careful planning, robust infrastructure, and strategic foresight. Adherence to the new rule will play a crucial role in safeguarding the integrity of telecommunications networks and protecting the privacy and security of customer data, but will also mandate a collaborative effort, blending technical acumen with legal expertise, to meet these challenges head-on and foster a more secure digital ecosystem.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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