Today's Regulatory Mix: Senator Introduces National Broadband Plan Bill, FTC Seeks Comment on Health Data Breach Rule, Representatives Introduce Universal Broadband Act
Senator Introduces National Broadband Plan Bill
Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, announced the National Broadband Plan for the Future Act, legislation that instructs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update the National Broadband Plan, as well as study how the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way Americans live, learn, and work online.
Senator Markey authored language in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that created the original National Broadband Plan, which set out a comprehensive roadmap for providing universal internet connectivity, while also creating jobs, boosting education, increasing access to medical care, and more. Ten years later, the Senator’s new legislation would require the FCC to assess the nation’s progress, provide detailed proposals to further increase internet access, and analyze how Americans’ unprecedented reliance on broadband during the coronavirus pandemic will shape the country moving forward.
“The National Broadband Plan laid out a vision for connecting all Americans to the internet, and we have made tremendous progress over the last decade,” said Senator Markey. “But the coronavirus pandemic has shown us that our work is far from done to ensure universal connectivity. Now more than ever, we see how necessary robust and affordable broadband is to the future of education, employment, medical care, and commerce in America. We need to update the National Broadband Plan so we can continue to invest in our nation’s future by bringing the power and promise of broadband to us all.”
FTC Seeks Comment on Health Data Breach Rule
The FTC announced that it is seeking comment on whether proposed changes should be made to a decade-old rule that requires certain companies that provide or service personal health records to notify consumers and the Commission of a data breach.
The Health Breach Notification Rule, which went into effective in 2009, requires vendors of personal health records and related entities that are not covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to notify individuals, the FTC, and, in some cases, the media of a breach of unsecured personally identifiable health data. Currently, the Rule requires such entities to provide notifications within 60 days after discovery of the breach. If more than 500 individuals are affected by a breach, however, entities must notify the FTC within 10 business days.
The Health Breach Notification Rule review is part of the FTC’s periodic review of its rules to ensure they are keeping pace with changes in the economy, technology, and business models.
Representatives Introduce Universal Broadband Act
In a press release, Representatives Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Don Young (R-AK), with the bipartisan support of T.J. Cox (D-CA), Hal Rogers (R-KY), Angie Craig (D-MN), Frank Lucas (R-OK), Luis Correa (D-CA), Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), Ed Case (D-HI), and Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) announced they have introduced The Universal Broadband Act today to ensure rural Americans have the opportunity to access reliable broadband services. The Universal Broadband Act will achieve this goal by expanding the Universal Service Fund (USF) contribution base to include broadband services, rather than the current outdated model that draws support solely from telephone services. The costs of building out service to areas without adequate broadband continues to rise, while the current base that contributes to the USF is declining. This has resulted in an increasingly growing contribution factor, overburdening those who are required to contribute.
“Reliable broadband is a utility, every bit as necessary as electricity,” said Rep. Peterson. “From distance learning to telehealth and the transitions of working from home during a public health crisis, broadband is more important than ever. It’s unacceptable that rural communities have limited, unreliable or worse yet no broadband access. In response to these inequities I have introduced the Universal Broadband Act that secures adequate funding to support the construction of broadband infrastructure in rural and underserved areas without having to increase the national debt.”
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.