FCC

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As comments pile up in the Open Internet proceeding, straining the FCC’s systems, a post on the Commission’s blog got us thinking about transparency.

On July 14, 2014 – the day before the original deadline for initial comments in the Open Internet (a/k/a Net Neutrality) proceeding – in the spirit of transparency the FCC’s Chief Information Officer took to the Commission’s blog to tout the agency’s ability to track the numbers of comments flooding in over the transom. According to a couple of files linked in his post, the Commission had received nearly 170,000 Net Neutrality comments submitted electronically through ECFS (the FCC’s online filing system), and another 442,000 or so by email. Those numbers are a moving target, though, and the target is only moving up: according to a post on ArsTechnica, by 11:00 a.m. on July 15, the tally was up to about 670,000.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “INCOMING! Commission’s Net Neutrality Comment Conundrum”

Ed note: The Telecom Law Monitor is part of the LexBlog Network (LXBN). LXBN is the world’s largest network of professional blogs. With more than 8,000 authors, LXBN is the only media source featuring the latest lawyer-generated commentary on news and issues from around the globe.

The Senate is one step closer to a floor vote on cybersecurity legislation that would address information sharing between the private sector and the government. On July 8, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence approved a contentious cybersecurity bill known as the Cyber Information Sharing Act (CISA).

The proposed legislation would remove legal barriers to allow private companies to share information regarding cyber-attacks “in real time” with other private companies and the government. Companies sharing information for cybersecurity purposes would be shielded from lawsuits by individuals against the company for sharing that data, regardless of terms of service contracts that may prevent such actions without a customer’s consent. In order to receive the liability protection, private entities would be required to submit information directly to the Department of Homeland Security, which could then share the information with other federal agencies as necessary to address the threat. Additionally, CISA would direct the federal government to share classified and unclassified information with the private sector.

CISA also includes several provisions to protect privacy, such as requiring that companies sharing information remove all personally identifiable data (e.g. names, addresses, and Social Security numbers). The Attorney General would be directed to write procedures to limit government use of cyber information received to “appropriate cyber purposes” and ensure that privacy protections are in place. A full synopsis from the Senate Committee Chair and co-sponsor of CISA, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), is available here.

Adequate privacy protections have been a continuing sticking point for successful cybersecurity information sharing legislation. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) – the information sharing bill counterpart in the House of Representatives – faced strong privacy objections from civil liberties and public interest groups. When CISPA passed the House in 2013, the White House threated to veto the bill unless it included additional privacy protections.

Even with CISA’s added protections, many privacy groups oppose the bill. Similar to CISPA, these groups remain anxious that the legislation could encourage a company, such as Google, to turn over huge amounts of emails or other private data to the government in the name of cybersecurity. The groups fear that the National Security Agency and other government agencies could gain access to even more personal information through this legislation. Moreover, because CISA provides liability protections to companies sharing information, individuals would have little recourse in the event of abuse.

Whether CISA becomes law in 2014 will depend not only on how quickly it can pass a floor vote but also how easily the Senate bill can be reconciled with CISPA, the House counterpart passed last year. Though CISA passed the Senate committee with bi-partisan support, Senate Democrats are already wavering on support due to concerns of insufficient privacy protections. If CISA manages to pass the Senate, there is a chance the House and Senate can agree to a reconciled bill. Representative Mike Rogers (R., Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and co-sponsor of CISPA, stated publicly that the committees were close to agreement on harmonizing their respective cyber threat information-sharing bills, and had narrowed down their difference to a few, discrete issues. However, with less than 15 legislative days before the August recess and all eyes focused on the upcoming mid-term elections in November, if this cybersecurity legislation has any hope of moving forward Congress will need to do something it rarely does: act quickly.

Ed note: This piece is from the official blog for the telecom practice of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP.

In the wake of a number of high-profile cybersecurity events — from the Heartbleed bug to the Target breach — cybersecurity has become a red-hot issue in Washington, D.C. Earlier this month, in a major address delivered at the American Enterprise Institute, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced a new cybersecurity initiative to create a “new paradigm for cyber readiness” in the communications sector.

As described by Wheeler, the FCC’s cybersecurity initiative will be led by the private sector, with the Commission serving as a monitor and backstop in the event that the market-led approach fails. In particular, the FCC will “identify public goals, work with the affected stakeholders in the communications industry to achieve those goals, and let that experience inform whether there is any need for next steps.” Chairman Wheeler stressed that the new paradigm must be dynamic, more than simply new rules, and the Commission will rely on innovation by the private sector.

The Commission’s efforts will be guided by four principles, including commitments to:

1. preserving the qualities that have made the Internet an unprecedented platform for innovation and free expression, so that Internet freedom and openness is not sacrificed in the name of enhanced security;
2. privacy, i.e., enabling personal control of one’s own data and networks;
3. cross-sector coordination, e.g., among regulatory agencies; and
4. the multi-stakeholder approach to global Internet governance and an opposition to any efforts by international groups to impose Internet regulations that could restrict the free flow of information in the name of security.

Expect FCC staff actions to be organized around the following elements:

(1) Information Sharing and Situational Awareness. The Commission is looking into legal and practical barriers to effective sharing of information about cyber threats and vulnerabilities in the communications space. Specifically, the Chairman noted that “companies large and small within the Communications communications sector must implement privacy-protective mechanisms to report cyber threats to each other, and, where necessary, to government authorities.” Moreover, where a cyberattack causes degradations of service or outages, the Chairman stated that “the FCC and communications providers must develop efficient methods to communicate and address th[e] risks.” To that end, the Chairman noted that the FCC is actively engaged with private sector Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations, and with other federal agencies, to improve threat information sharing and situational awareness.

(2) Cybersecurity Risk Management and Best Practices. Noting the work of the Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) in developing voluntary cybersecurity standards, Chairman Wheeler called upon communications providers to work with the Commission to set the course for years to come regarding how companies in that sector communicate and manage risk internally, with their customers and business partners, and with the government. In addition, the Commission will be seeking information to measure the implementation and impact of the CSRIC standards.

(3) Investment in Innovation and Professional Development. Chairman Wheeler has asked the FCC Technological Advisory Council (“TAC”) to explore specific opportunities where “R&D activity beyond a single company might result in positive cybersecurity benefit for the entire industry.” Specifically, the FCC will “identify incentives, impediments, and opportunities for security innovations in the market for communications hardware, firmware and software.” Further, the FCC will work with NIST and academia to “understand the current state of professional standard and accountability,” as well as “where the FCC might positively contribute toward further professionalization of the workforce.”

This initiative could have significant impact on telecommunications and technology companies. Cybersecurity already is a top priority for CSRIC. A new working group was established within CSRIC and work is underway to update the industry’s cybersecurity best practices. The primary goal is to align the industry’s cybersecurity activities with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework Version 1.0 released in February 2014. Industry members are encouraged to participate in the process. Based on the current timeline, CSRIC will vote to approve the new best practices in March 2015.

Kelley Drye & Warren’s attorneys recently presented a webinar discussing cybersecurity updates and considerations for the telecommunications and technology industries. To listen to a recording of The Cybersecurity Review webinar, please click here.

On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit benchslapped a gaggle of lawyers for filing briefs with excessive acronyms. The court’s per curiam order directed the parties to “submit briefs that eliminate uncommon acronyms used in their previously filed final briefs.”

Alas, attempts to comply with this order have raised a new problem — a problem that some readers saw a mile away….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Benchslap Postscript: Mo’ Words, Mo’ Problems”

The D.C. Circuit to counsel: readable briefs or GTFO. From an order filed today:

Who are the parties and their counsel? Additional information and the full order, after the jump.

(Also note the UPDATES — in defense of the lawyers, and floating a theory about the judge behind the benchslap — added to the end of this post.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslap Of The Day: LMAO At D.C. Cir.”

Kristen Saban

* Justice Scalia apparently has an ulterior motive for his hatred of deep-dish pizza: “He’s just trying to undermine Barack Obama because he’s a Chicago guy.” God, can’t the guy just like New York style pizza better? Come on. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Now that the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules have been smacked down by the D.C. Circuit, the agency is going to start from scratch and come up with some new ones. Yeah, good luck with that. [National Law Journal]

* “Roll your window up, ignore the taunting, put your car in reverse, move a parking spot over.” These are some of the ways you can avoid killing black teenagers over loud music, says a Michael Dunn juror. [CNN]

* The toupee gave it away: A lawyer who used to work as an i-banker at Stratton Oakmont is suing for defamation over a character he claims was modeled after him in the “Wolf of Wall Street.” [ABC News]

* The lawsuit filed against Nick Saban’s daughter by her sorority sister was tossed under Alabama’s “stand your ground” rule over her objections that she was kind of like a defenseless receiver. [Associated Press]

* The D.C. Circuit just spanked the FCC and its net neutrality rules for the second time in a row, but at least the court was polite enough to give the agency a reach-around by saying that it had authority to govern broadband providers. [National Law Journal]

* Current and former judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court wrote a strongly worded letter in opposition to Obama’s proposed surveillance reforms. Apparently they don’t want their secret workload to increase. [Washington Post]

* Oooooooklahoma, where gay marriage comes sweepin’ down the plain! A federal judge ruled that the Sooner state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, issuing a stay pending the obvious appeal to come. [BuzzFeed]

* California can prevent LSAC from notifying law schools when prospective law students were given extra time on the LSAT. LSAC values its ability to discriminate, so expect an appeal. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Yo, Kanye West, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish… I’m sorry, but Coinye had one of the best bitcoins of all time. ONE OF THE BEST BITCOINS OF ALL TIME. [MoneyBeat / Wall Street Journal]

Last month, Miley Cyrus stunned the nation with her racy performance at the MTV Video Music Awards (and by “racy,” we mean that she stripped down to a latex bikini, dry-humped Robin Thicke, twerked to her heart’s content, and used a foam finger to, well, finger herself). Hannah Montana would be so disappointed.

Social media sites went wild, and so did viewers, some of whom were so traumatized by Miley’s bump n’ grind routine that they decided to take their angry rants to the FCC, an agency with absolutely no legal authority over indecency on a cable network like MTV.

More than 150 concerned citizens flooded the Commission’s inbox with irate correspondence, only to have them fall on deaf ears. But thanks to the many Freedom of Information Act requests filed with the FCC, the public’s complaints have been unearthed, and boy, are they entertaining…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “‘God Help This Nation’: The FCC’s Best Miley Cyrus Complaints”

* Earlier this week, Verizon faced off against the Federal Communications Commission in a net neutrality battle royal before the D.C. Circuit. Next time, make FiOS work before trying to get a do-over on the way the internet runs. [New York Times]

* “I see my job as an air traffic controller. And I see an unending line of airplanes.” Federal judges are buckling under the heavy weight of their caseloads, and from the sound of it, they’re not at all happy about the situation. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* Which Biglaw firms strike the most fear into the hearts of their opponents when it comes to litigation? One firm got the boot from last year’s list, and we’ll have more on this later today. [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* Duane Morris is the first U.S. firm to open an office in Myanmar on some prime real estate. Be jealous of their associates as they bask in the splendor of its beautiful architecture. [Philadelphia Business Journal]

* A trio of Quinn Emanuel partners, including John Quinn himself, teamed up to open a high-class sushi joint in L.A. If he waits tables, he’ll definitely need someone to break a hundred. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a former student’s suit against Thomas M. Cooley Law School, and now he’ll have to live with shame for all eternity after being branded a cheater. [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* Strippers aren’t independent contractors, they’re employees entitled to minimum wage, says a judge. Taking off their clothes for only $7.25 an hour will do wonders for their self-esteem. [New York Daily News]

* Lady Gaga is being taken to trial over the wage-and-hour lawsuit filed by her former personal assistant. We wonder if the pop star will be as foul-mouthed on the stand as she was in her deposition. [ABC News]

* Mike Brown, the man at the center of the would-be South Carolina restaurant racial discrimination suit, has a post over at xoJane telling his story. [xoJane]

* Time for a Team Prenda update! Now they are making really embarrassingly terrible “your mom” jokes. [Popehat]

* Contrary to Elie’s tweet, there is kind of a legal angle to the debacle at the VMAs that was Miley Cyrus dancing with an aging Michael Keaton dressed as Beetlejuice Robin Thicke. MuckRock has submitted a FOIA request to find out how many complaints were filed with the FCC. Unfortunately, my bet is that the number is more than zero, despite the FCC having no legal authority over indecency on MTV. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, here’s a collection of GIFs. [MuckRock]

* Shots fired! Law Librarian Blog snarks on Law Professor Blogs 2.0 re-design. Palace Intrigue: Blogger Edition. [Law Librarian Blog]

* A new website provides an online course in general deposition prep for witnesses. Will this work? Pro: Deposition prep involves haphazard application of life lessons from a lawyer’s individual career and a professionalized course is beneficial. Con: Why would a firm forfeit all those billable hours to a third-party? [The Perfect Witness]

* Not every law school is cutting back. San Joaquin College of Law is expanding its enrollment. It’s not ABA-accredited, so all these students are sure to land on their feet. [KFSN]

* Since we’re likely to be at war with Syria by the end of the week, here’s a thoughtful piece on the legality of intervention in light of the UN charter and moral obligations. [Boston Review]

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