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.
Representatives Upton, Walden, Blackburn, Shimkus, Kelly, and Rokita requested that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) examine the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’ s (NTIA) recent proposal to transition Internet oversight to the global multi-stakeholder community. See the Regulatory Mix dated 3/18/14. The Representatives expressed concern that the criteria for transition set forth by NTIA may not ensure that the Internet remains free and open in the absence of United States oversight. They are seeking an examination of the proposed transition and its possible implications to U.S. national security, the potential for other governments to assume the U.S. role post-transition, and any additional concerns the GAO may have about the transition.
In May, the Energy and Commerce committee advanced H.R. 4342, the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act of 2014, which would require a GAO study of the NTIA proposal before any changes are made regarding Internet oversight. Additionally, the House adopted an amendment to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act that mirrored language from the DOTCOM Act and similarly requires the administration to wait until the GAO conducts its study before making any changes.
The FCC also released the agenda for its June 13, 2014 Open Meeting. The agenda includes:
- Technology Transitions Presentation: The FCC will hear a presentation from its Office of Engineering & Technology with an update on the efforts to transition circuit-switched networks to Internet Protocol (IP) networks. The presentation will include a status report on the voluntary experiments proposed by AT&T designed to assess how the transition to IP networks affects users.
- Expanding Community Access to Radio: The FCC will hear a presentation from its Media Bureau with an update on the continuing efforts to launch new and diverse voices to the American public via increased access to Low Power FM radio stations.
The FCC will also consider seven Media Bureau items on its Consent Agenda (not presented separately). The meeting will be broadcast live at www.fcc.gov/live.
The Pennsylvania PUC seeks comment on a proposed $150,200 settlement agreement between Pennsylvania Gas & Electric (PaG&E) and the PUC’s independent Bureau of Investigation & Enforcement (I&E) over the company’s enrollment practices in 2012. Interested parties have 20 days to comment on the settlement. Instructions on how to file comments are contained in the PUC’s Order. Other provisions of the settlement include background checks for all potential independent contractors and the retraining of agents about PUC regulations pertaining to consumer protection and the prohibition on slamming.
On February 6, 2014, the PUC rejected a previous settlement with PaG&E on this matter saying in a motion that “PaG&E did not appear to have any internal controls in place to prevent the volume of slamming that allegedly occurred here…we have said many times that this Commission will not tolerate behavior that erodes the public trust in Pennsylvania’s retail energy markets.” I&E began an informal investigation into the company after the PUC received complaints about PaG&E’s marketing, alleging that the electric and natural gas accounts of large commercial customers were switched without customer authorizations. The proposed settlement agreement states that, had this matter been litigated, I&E would have alleged 309 instances of slamming. I&E alleges that one telephone sales representative was responsible for the attempted unauthorized switching of several hundred commercial electric and natural gas accounts to receive supply service provided by PaG&E. According to I&E, the individual – who was employed by a third party vendor that contacts businesses with multiple locations and markets PaG&E’s programs for potential enrollment – willfully circumvented the quality controls of PaG&E’s sales system.