Eduardo Guzmán

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently issued four orders imposing $196 million in fines against the three largest national mobile services providers in the United States (i.e., AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon) and Sprint, who merged with T-Mobile in 2020 (the “Mobile Providers”).[1] The FCC fined them for sharing customer location information with third parties without prior customer consent and then failing to take reasonable measures to protect that information against unauthorized disclosure. Although AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon suspended in 2019 the specific programs that gave rise to the fines, the Forfeiture Orders stand as the definitive guidance from the FCC on the treatment of customer location information under Section 222 of the Communications Act and the FCC’s rules regulating access to “customer proprietary network information” or “CPNI.” They also provide a window into upcoming debates and possible additional FCC actions.Continue Reading FCC Fines National Mobile Providers for Sharing Customer Location Information: What Are the Lessons and What to Expect in this New Era of FCC Mobile Data Privacy Oversight

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has adopted rules to address two fraudulent practices that “bad actors use to take control of consumers’ cell phone accounts and wreak havoc on people’s financial and digital lives without ever gaining physical control of the consumer’s phone.”

In its recent Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released November 16, 2023, the Commission first addressed the practice where bad actors are able to swap a consumer’s subscriber identity module (“SIM”) card to a wireless device associated with a different SIM (i.e., SIM card swap fraud). The agency also acted on wireless number porting fraud, where bad actors impersonate a customer and convince the provider to port the real customer’s telephone number to a new wireless provider and a device that the bad actor controls (i.e., port-out fraud). Continue Reading FCC Acts to Protect Consumer Data by Strengthening Customer Proprietary Network Information and Number Porting Rules

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has formally proposed for public comments new net neutrality rules that—if adopted—will impact both internet service providers (ISPs) and the entities that provide content, applications, services and devices accessed over the internet (i.e., “edge providers”). The move comes only weeks after Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel obtained a Democratic majority with the swearing-in of Commissioner Anna Gomez on September 25, 2023.

For ISPs, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is deja vu. The NPRM largely tracks the net neutrality rules the FCC adopted in 2015, based on reclassifying broadband internet access (BIAS) as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act. As in 2015, the NRPM proposes prohibiting blocking and throttling lawful traffic (subject to a reasonable network management practice exception) and paid prioritization by third parties (i.e., paying ISPs to prioritize traffic routing). It also proposes to adopt a general conduct standard that would mimic the 2015 rules by prohibiting any unreasonable interference with an end user’s ability to use BIAS to access services or content or to use devices.Continue Reading Net Neutrality 2.0: The FCC Revives Net Neutrality Emphasizing Concerns with Data Privacy, Cybersecurity and National Security

In the last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken several steps to signal a more assertive and aggressive role for that agency on privacy, data protection and cybersecurity issues.

First, The FCC announced on June 14, 2023, the creation of a Privacy and Data Protection Task Force that will coordinate across the FCC on rulemaking, enforcement and other proceedings impacting privacy and data protection. Among the issues that the Task Force will focus on are data breaches by telecommunications providers and vulnerabilities involving third-party vendors servicing telecommunications providers. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel noted that the Task Force, which the Chief of the Enforcement Bureau will lead, will play a prominent role in the agency’s effort to modernize its data breach rules and new rules to crack down on SIM-swapping fraud.
Continue Reading FCC Initiatives on Data Privacy, Internet Network Security and Data Caps

Noting that some 35 million telephone numbers are disconnected and made available for reassignment to consumers annually, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) took a further step last Thursday to address the “problem of unwanted calls to reassigned numbers.”  The problem with these calls already is well known to businesses that rely on phone calls or text messages to communicate with their customers: a caller places a call or sends a text  to a number for which it has previously obtained the necessary consent, only to find out later that the number has since been reassigned to someone else (who has not provided consent).  The FCC declared in the Declaratory Ruling and Order of July 2015 (“2015 Declaratory Ruling”) that these calls may violate the TCPA, although it also created a limited safe harbor for a single call or message made post-reassignment
Continue Reading Reassigned Numbers: Sailing Towards A New TCPA “Safe Harbor?”

The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is asking for comments on a petition filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) requesting clarification or a declaratory ruling under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) as to communications from mortgage servicers to borrowers affected by natural disasters. The FHFA’s petition, which was filed on November 15, 2017 and requests an “expedited response,” makes two specific requests.
Continue Reading FCC Bureau Asks for Comments on the Treatment of Calls to Mortgage Borrowers Affected by Hurricanes

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted last week new rules that signal a new approach to tackling calls that violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).  In its first rulemaking dealing with the TCPA under Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC is removing barriers that prevent telecommunications providers from blocking calls that presumably violate the TCPA because they misleadingly appear to originate from telephone numbers that should not be originating calls at all.
Continue Reading FCC Opens the Door to Blocking Spoofed Robocalls that Violate the TCPA