Senate Bill Would Give the FTC Jurisdiction Over Telecom Companies
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Protection from Robocalling Act to combat the dramatic increase in illegal robocalls. The bill amends the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act by removing in its entirety (i.e., not merely for purposes of regulating robocalling activity) the provision that exempts common carriers regulated by the FCC from the FTC’s jurisdiction. The Press Release explains that “[t]elecom companies were originally exempted from FTC oversight because they were regulated by other federal agencies. However, as those federal regulations were rolled back, the exemption remained in place. This created a loophole that allows telecom companies that actively facilitate illegal robocalling to escape FTC enforcement. The Protection from Robocalling Act closes that loophole, giving the FTC the authority it needs to investigate telecom companies that knowingly provide VoIP and short duration call services to illegal robocallers.”
“Recently, the FTC in conjunction with 25 federal, state and local agencies announced a nationwide crackdown on illegal robocallers responsible for more than 1 billion illegal robocalls,” Senator Feinstein said. “These calls are more than a nuisance. Robocalls allow scam artists to target their victims and can tie up emergency service numbers, putting people’s lives at risk. We must do more than go after the people making the robocalls, we need to stop the phone services that make this illegal behavior possible. Our bill will give the FTC the tools it needs to do exactly that.”
“Most robocalls aren’t just unwanted and disruptive – they are illegal,” Senator Klobuchar said. “Our bill will close a loophole that robocall companies exploit to scam and annoy consumers and enable the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on illegal robocalling schemes.”
“Our bill will close loopholes and empower an FTC crackdown on phone carriers who knowingly ignore billions of illegal and intrusive robocalls on their service lines,” Senator Blumenthal said. “Phone service providers must be our first line of defense against the onslaught of robocalls that are often used by scammers and spammers to defraud unsuspecting consumers. The FTC to be able to hold these companies accountable for this onslaught of unwanted calls.”
The Regulatory Mix Today: Senate Bill Would Give the FTC Jurisdiction Over Telecom Companies, IIA Releases Survey about Public Opinion on Internet, Canada CRTC Announces ISP Code of Conduct
IIA Releases Survey about Public Opinion on Internet
The Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) released a survey showing that Millennial Americans – like older generations – are concerned about the privacy of their online personal information and whether online technology and social media companies are taking the appropriate steps to safeguard the personal information of consumers.
As revealed by the survey, three-quarters (74%) of all U.S. adults worry that their financial and personal data will be hacked. Three out of four (75%) are not in favor of their online data being used to make content and advertising more relevant, or for commercial purposes (76%). And, of note, a very strong consensus exists among Americans (72%) for a single, nationwide online data privacy law. These trends are common across different demographic groups of consumers; rural and urban, younger and older, and consumers of different races share similar views on online privacy.
“Millennial Americans, which represent more than a quarter of the nation’s population, are deeply concerned about the privacy of their online personal data. Not surprisingly, the concerns of Millennials track those of millions of Americans who have seen numerous data breaches and are aware of the misuses of their personal data by some companies in the internet ecosystem.”
CRTC Announces ISP Code of Conduct
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced a new “code of conduct” for Internet service providers (ISPs). The code becomes effective starting January 31, 2020.
The Code will introduce new rights for customers and establish certain business practices. It will, among other things, attempt to ensure that customers benefit from:
- Easier-to-understand contracts, documentation and policies surrounding service calls, outages, security deposits, and disconnections;
- Clearer information about prices, including for bundles, promotions and time-limited discounts, thanks to required critical information summaries;
- Bill shock protection, through notifications when customers approach their data-usage limits; and
- New rules permitting customers to cancel a contract within 45 days, without paying early cancellation fees, if the contract differs from the offer.
The Code will apply to large ISPs and will be administered by the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS). The CRTC expects all other ISPs to behave in a manner consistent with the principles set out in the Code.
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.