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 Briefing.
The FCC is seeking comment on a petition for rulemaking filed by the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition, California Telehealth Network, New England Telehealth Consortium, Health Information Exchange of Montana, Utah Telehealth Network, Colorado Telehealth Network, and Southwest Telehealth Access Grid.
The petition asks the FCC to amend Part 54 of its rules with a series of reforms to the Rural Health Care (RHC) program. Comments are due January 14, 2016; reply comments are due January 29, 2016. Among other things, the petitioners ask the FCC to further modernize the Rural Health Care program by increasing the discount percentage in the Healthcare Connect Fund to ensure rural health care providers have access to, and can afford, the quality broadband necessary to support broadband-enabled care; and to update its analysis of eligible health care providers, to consider minimum levels of connectivity needed by those providers, and to recalibrate the Rural Health Care program cap based on such an analysis.
The Federal Trade Commission issued a report entitled Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion? Understanding the Issues. The report looks at how big data is used after being collected and analyzed and outlines a number of questions for businesses to consider to help ensure that their use of big data analytics avoids outcomes that may be exclusionary or discriminatory. The report highlights a number of innovative uses of big data that are providing benefits to underserved populations but also looks at possible risks that could result from biases or inaccuracies about certain groups, including more individuals mistakenly denied opportunities based on the actions of others, exposing sensitive information, creating or reinforcing existing disparities, assisting in the targeting of vulnerable consumers for fraud, creating higher prices for goods and services in lower-income communities and weakening the effectiveness of consumer choice. The report outlines some of the various laws that apply to the use of big data, especially in regards to possible issues of discrimination or exclusion, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, FTC Act and equal opportunity laws. It also provides a range of questions for businesses to consider when they examine whether their big data programs comply with these laws.