Today’s Regulatory Mix: FCC Levies Record Fine Against Telemarketers: $225 Million, FCC Adopts Framework to Share Outage Information with State, Federal, And Tribal Nation Agencies, FCC Proposes to Further Strengthen Emergency Alerting
FCC Levies Record Fine Against Telemarketers: $225 Million
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) levied the largest fine in FCC history – $225 million – against telemarketers John C. Spiller and Jakob A. Mears. According to the FCC’s Forfeiture Order, Spiller and Mears conducted business under the names Rising Eagle Capital Group LLC, JSquared Telecom LLC, Only Web Leads LLC, Rising Phoenix Group, Rising Phoenix Holdings, RPG Leads, and Rising Eagle Capital Group – Cayman (collectively, Rising Eagle). Rising Eagle made approximately one billion health insurance-related robocalls in the first four-and-a-half months of 2019, intentionally spoofing calls with the intent to defraud, cause harm, and wrongfully obtain something of value in violation of the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009. Spiller and Mears were found to be personally as well as jointly and severally liable, along with the Rising Eagle companies, for the fine.
FCC Adopts Framework to Share Outage Information with State, Federal, And Tribal Nation Agencies
The Federal Communications Commission announced that it has adopted a framework for sharing communications outage information with state, federal and Tribal nation agencies to improve their situational awareness, enhance their ability to respond more quickly to outages affecting their communities, and to help save lives, while safeguarding the confidentiality of this data.
To protect sensitive communications status data, participating agencies must preserve the confidentiality of Network Outage Reporting System (NORS) and Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) filings. The Commission adopted an application process that will grant agencies access to this information only after certifying to requirements for maintaining the confidentiality of the data and the security of the databases.
FCC Proposes to Further Strengthen Emergency Alerting
The Federal Communications Commission announced that it has proposed rules to improve the way the public receives emergency alerts on their mobile phones, televisions, and radios. The nation’s Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts help keep the public safe and informed and are of ever-increasing importance given the emergencies and disasters Americans have faced in recent years. In 2018, however, a false emergency alert in Hawaii mistakenly warned of an incoming ballistic missile and highlighted the need to improve these systems.
The Commission proposed to:
- Combine the current “Presidential Alerts” category, which is non-optional on devices that receive Wireless Emergency Alerts, with alerts from the FEMA Administrator. The new non-optional alert class would be called “National Alerts.”
- Encourage all states to form State Emergency Communications Committees, which help administer alerting on the state level, or to review the composition and governance of existing committees, as well as require these committees to certify that they held a meeting in the past year.
- Provide a checklist of information that should be included in annual submissions of state Emergency Alert System plans and amend the process for Commission review of those plans.
- Specify that government agencies may report false emergency alerts to the FCC’s 24/7 Operations Center.
- Require and ensure that Emergency Alert System participants can repeat certain alerts over television and radio when the government alert originator requests it.
The Commission adopted a Notice of Inquiry to explore the technical feasibility delivering Emergency Alert System alerts through the Internet, including streaming services, and whether it is feasible for Emergency Alert System participants to leverage the Internet to offer advanced alerting capabilities to the public.
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 uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.