The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of 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 a TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) asked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to provide them with an update on the agency’s workload and backlog of issues that are currently pending. The request was made as part of the committee’s oversight of the FCC and its concern about FCC processes as embodied by H.R. 3675, the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act, which passed the House on March 11, 2014. See the Regulatory Mix dated 3/12/14. The letter asks the FCC to respond to 16 separate questions about its workload and backlog, including how consumer complaints are handled, the number of open dockets and pending items that have not been addressed and how long they have been inactive, any statutory deadlines that were missed, and various time frames in connection with open proceedings and investigations.
US Senators Rockefeller, Pryor, and Nelson have asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study how the nation’s communications networks — which continue to transition to an Internet Protocol (IP) environment — can be rapidly restored after a natural or manmade disaster. The Senators are asking GAO to answer the following questions: (1) To what extent has the communications sector transitioned from traditional copper-based networks to IP networks? (2) As part of the nation’s critical infrastructure, what action has the federal government taken to ensure the reliability and robustness of communication networks that have transitioned to IP? (3) What key challenges do IP network operators face during times of crises and how do the challenges affect consumers? (4) To what extent do priority access programs for emergency preparedness communications exist for IP networks?
The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is seeking public comment on how developments related to “big data” impact the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. NTIA is seeking comment on various issues including:
- how the principles in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights support innovations related to big data while also responding to potential privacy risks;
- whether the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights should be clarified or modified to better accommodate the benefits or risks of big data;
- whether a responsible use framework should be used to address the challenges posed by big data; and
- mechanisms to best address the limits of the “notice and consent” model for privacy protection noted in the big data report.
Comments will be due 60 days after the Request for Comments is published in the Federal Register.
The FCC announced it is accepting applications from entities interested in receiving certification to distribute equipment under the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) to qualifying residents in Indiana and Minnesota. Applications will be accepted until June 19, 2014. In 2012, the FCC selected the Indiana State University as the NDBEDP certified program for the state of Indiana, and the Minnesota Department of Human Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHS) as the NDBEDP certified program for Minnesota. However, both entities recently told the FCC they were unable to continue to participate in the NDBEDP and will relinquish their certifications.
The certified programs selected for Indiana and Minnesota will be reimbursed for eligible NDBEDP related costs that they incur after their selection and during the third year of the NDBEDP pilot program, which begins July 1, 2014 and ends June 30, 2015. Any public program or private entity may apply to the FCC for certification if it meets the FCC’s qualification requirements.