Today's Regulatory Mix: FTC Testifies to Congress on COVID-19 Scams, FCC Seeks Comment for 2020 CVAA Biennial Report, FCC Reminds Cable and Satellite TV Operators of New Notice Requirements
FTC Testifies to Congress on COVID-19 Scams
The FTC announced that it recently testified before the Senate Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection on its efforts to combat scams and other consumer problems related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The testimony, delivered by Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith, outlined the FTC’s efforts to protect consumers from scammers seeking to take advantage of the pandemic. The FTC has been monitoring consumer complaints and the marketplace for a variety of scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FTC has seen deceptive advertising or marketing touting “miracle cures” for COVID-19, the testimony noted. To get these false treatment claims taken down as quickly as possible, the FTC has sent more than 250 warning letters to marketers regarding claims that their products will treat, cure, or prevent COVID-19. In most cases, companies that have received such letters take steps to quickly correct their problematic claims. The FTC, however, reiterated that it will pursue law enforcement action when a warning letter does not stop the problem.
The FTC also has sent warning letters to multi-level marketing companies regarding COVID-19 prevention or treatment claims and earnings claims, VoIP service providers for “assisting and facilitating” illegal telemarketing or robocalls related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to companies making claims that could lead consumers and small businesses to believe these companies are somehow affiliated with the Small Business Administration.
FCC Seeks Comment for 2020 CVAA Biennial Report
The FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau) is seeking comment on its tentative findings on the accessibility and usability of telecommunications and advanced communications services (ACS) and equipment in connection with the biennial report to Congress (Biennial Report) required by section 717(b)(1) of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). Comments are due by August 4, 2020.
The Bureau tentatively finds that the accessibility and usability of many services and equipment covered by the CVAA have improved since 2018 and that there has been a continued effort in general by affected industries to include people with disabilities in the design and development of their products and services. It also tentatively finds that while overall there has been progress in ensuring access to smartphones and other smart devices, there continue to be gaps in the accessibility of feature phones to people who are blind, as well as a failure by some providers to make their apps accessible to screen readers. Other tentative findings include:
- The accessibility of Internet browsers built into mobile phones has continued to improve due to the incorporation of better screen readers, improvements in speech-to-text engines, and new accessibility features built into the operating systems of the phones.
- Although new communications and other technologies hold the promise of improving the quality of life for consumers with disabilities, some accessibility concerns about these new technologies remain.
- The accessibility recordkeeping and enforcement requirements have not hindered the development and deployment of new communications technologies.
After consideration of the comments, the FCC must submit final findings to Congress by October 8, 2020 – the tenth anniversary of enactment of the legislation.
FCC Reminds Cable and Satellite TV Operators of New Notice Requirements
The FCC’s Media Bureau has reminded cable operators and DBS providers that after July 31, 2020, they must use email to deliver covered notices to broadcast television stations. Cable operators must use email to deliver the notices required by the following rules: sections 76.64(k) (intent to commence service); 76.1601 (deletion or repositioning of broadcast signals); 76.1607 (changes to principal headend); 76.1608 (system technical integration requiring uniform election of must carry or retransmission consent status); 76.1609 (non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity); and 76.1617 (activation of a cable system). DBS must use email to deliver the notices required by the following rules: sections 76.54(e) and 76.66(d)(5) (intent to retransmit a “significantly viewed” out-of-market station);9 76.66(d)(2) (intent to launch new local-into-local or HD carry-one, carry-all service); 76.66(d)(1)(vi) and (d)(3)(iv) (response to carriage requests); 76.66(f)(3)-(4) (location of local receive facility or intent to relocate such facility); and 76.66(h)(5) (deletion of duplicating signal or addition of formerly duplicating signal). The reminder also specifies the email addresses to be used.
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.