Today’s Regulatory Mix: The FCC Fines Malicious Robocaller Nearly $10 Million, FCC Chairman Pai Delivers Remarks on the Future of American Spectrum Policy, FCC Releases Paper on Local Television News Operations Measured Against Market Size
FCC Fines Malicious Robocaller Nearly $10 Million
The Federal Communications Commission today fined a robocaller $9,918,000 for illegally using caller ID spoofing with the intent to cause harm. This individual made thousands of spoofed robocalls targeting specific communities with harmful pre-recorded messages. The robocalls included xenophobic fearmongering (including to a victim’s family), racist attacks on political candidates, an apparent attempt to influence the jury in a domestic terrorism case, and threatening language toward a local journalist. The caller used an online calling platform to intentionally manipulate caller ID information so that the calls he was making appeared to come from local numbers—a technique called “neighbor spoofing.”
The caller made unlawful, spoofed robocalls to different communities around the country in 2018, motivated by an intent to cause harm to these communities and gain media notoriety and publicity for his website and personal brand. The FCC, Federal Trade Commission, and local law enforcement all received numerous complaints from consumers about apparently spoofed robocalls from this caller. The Truth in Caller ID Act prohibits manipulating caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.
FCC Chairman Pai Delivers Remarks on the Future of American Spectrum Policy
On January 14, 2021, outgoing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai delivered remarks to the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) on the future of American Spectrum Policy. Pai thanked staff and reviewed the history of the Commission’s work in 5G since 2018. While the Chairman’s remarks were primarily focused on Spectrum, he did state that:
“I’d be remiss if I moved on from the 5G FAST plan without a quick nod to the non-spectrum elements. I’ll spare you the details of our work to promote wireless infrastructure and modernize our regulations to encourage more fiber deployment. The most important thing to know about them is that all the evidence suggests they are working. In 2018 and then again in 2019, the United States set records for annual fiber deployment. And the number of new cell sites in the United States has skyrocketed. We added fewer than 7,000 cell sites from 2013 to 2016, but added over 87,000—over 12 times as many—from 2016 to 2019. Nice marmots, indeed. Commissioner Carr led the Commission’s efforts on wireless infrastructure policy, and he deserves much of the credit for this success. So more spectrum. More small-cell deployment. And more fiber. That too is 5G FAST.
While our 5G FAST plan may have been the key driver of the Commission’s work to free up licensed spectrum, it’s not the entirety of our work. We’ve studied the entire spectrum chart closely, and where we’ve seen airwaves that clearly aren’t being put to their highest-value use, we’ve acted.”
Chairman Pai closed his remarks with the following comment:
“Over the past four years, the FCC has taken unprecedented steps on spectrum to give big thinkers a big sandbox to work with in order to unleash big waves of wireless innovation. Along the way, there were some strikes and gutters, ups and downs. But we put our faith in American ingenuity. We vaulted the United States into a leadership position. And we delivered for the American people. And now, as the mobile future unfolds, we can all abide. I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in that.”
FCC Releases Paper on Local Television News Operations Measured Against Market Size
The FCC’s Office of Economics and Analytics released a new paper titled “Market Size and Local Television News.” This report focuses on the relationship between the number of independent local television news operations in a market and the size of the market, as measured by number of television households. The paper is expected to help policymakers assess the state of competition, localism, and diversity in the media market.
“The Commission is called upon to review media ownership regulations every four years, and it is my hope that this paper will be a valuable input to that enterprise,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “More generally, I’m pleased at this latest evidence that the Office of Economics and Analytics, which we created in 2018, has built a culture in which our economists are now able and willing to write white papers exploring important topics.”
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 tracks and assesses. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.