Top Takeaways from DWT’s April 26 Open Internet Webinar

by Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

As the communications industry anxiously awaits a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on the judicial challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet rules, the Commission is charging forward with new regulations.  On April 26, DWT held its latest in a series of webinars focusing on Open Internet developments.  Here are some of the key takeaways.

Privacy NPRM

Christin McMeley discussed the FCC’s April 1 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that applies the privacy protections in Section 222 of the Communications Act to broadband providers.  The FCC is seeking comments on a broad array of questions, including:

  • What should requirements regarding consumer choice look like?
  • What type of information should be considered “Customer Proprietary Network Information,” “Customer Proprietary Information” and “PII”?
  • What level of harm should trigger breach notification?
  • How long should firms have to notify regulators in the event of a breach?

Stakeholders should not miss this opportunity to have their voices heard in the process of shaping the telecom privacy landscape.  Initial comments are due May 27.

Transparency & Disclosure

K.C. Halm and Adam Shoemaker provided an overview of the FCC’s enhanced transparency and disclosure rules for services provided to consumers and edge providers, including the recent Safe Harbor labels, as well as timing and implementation issues relating to Internet service provider disclosures.

Capitol Hill Update

From Grayling, Kim Bayliss and Steve Perry described the increase in communications-related legislative activity that occurred in Congress during the first quarter of 2016 – despite the “overhang” of the D.C. Circuit’s crucial decision – and discussed possible scenarios for future legislative activity as the 2016 elections approach.

Broadband Lifeline

Danielle Frappier presented an overview of the FCC’s latest reforms of the Lifeline program, which subsidizes communications services for low income individuals.  Danielle described the contentious FCC meeting in which the commissioners voted along party lines to:

  • expand the supported services to include broadband Lifeline support for low-income consumers;
  • create a national eligibility verifier database;
  • establish a Lifeline broadband provider nation-wide designation;
  • revise ETC obligations; and
  • modify the eligibility criteria.

Shortly after Danielle gave her presentation, the FCC released the full text of the Lifeline reform order.  Please join Danielle and other members of DWT’s Lifeline team for a webinar on May 24 to break down this complex order, discuss its implications on current and future Lifeline providers, and examine how these changes intersect with the rules scheduled to take effect this summer.

Zero Rating – Facebook’s India Experience and Beyond

Mike Sloan explained the complicated implications of “zero rating” programs and provided several real world examples of this practice in the marketplace.  Next, Mike described the resistance Facebook has encountered from telecommunications regulators in India and other countries as it has attempted to offer its “Free Basics” service around the world.


The full presentation is available here and slides are available here.

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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