|FCC Fines Fax Mill Five Million
1/5. The Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) released an
of Forefeiture [16 pages in PDF] that assesses a monetary forfeiture of
$5,379,000 against Fax.com, Inc. for violations of the the Telephone Consumer
Protection Act (TCPA). The order states that Fax.com willfully and repeatedly
violated 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(C), and the FCC's rules, by sending unsolicited
advertisements to telephone facsimile machines on behalf of its clients on 489
Michael Powell wrote in a separate
statement [PDF] that ""Consumers hate to go to
their fax machine only to find their resources have been wasted on spam and
junk. We’re sending relief in the form of a simple message to junk faxers:
violate our rules, and you will pay the consequences. Today’s action marks the
largest forfeiture the Commission has ever issued in this area. We will not rest
until consumers find peace from unwanted and unlawful intrusions – whether from
telemarketing calls or junk faxes."
The FCC adopted this order on December 31, 2003. This item is
FCC 04-2 in File No. EB-02-TC-120. See also,
|District Court Compares AT&T to Lily
12/24. The U.S. District
Court (DMass) issued an
Memorandum and Order [17 pages in PDF] in Veno v. AT&T on
cross motions for summary judgment. AT&T repeatedly accessed Veno's credit
report, without authority, and over Veno's repeated demands that it stop. The
District Court ruled that the case may go to a jury on some, but not all of the
claims in the complaint alleging violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting
Act (FCRA), and related Massachusetts statutes.
AT&T repeatedly obtained Robert Veno's credit report between
June 1996 and August 2000. Veno has never been a customer of AT&T, and AT&T had
no authority to obtain the reports. Veno repeatedly telephoned and wrote AT&T to
complain. Eventually, his attorney wrote on his behalf, to no avail.
Finally, Veno filed a complaint in District Court against AT&T
alleging violations of federal and state law. Count I alleges violation of the
FCRA by obtaining a report under false pretenses. Count II alleges violation of
the FCRA by knowingly obtaining a report without permissible purpose. Count III
alleges violation of the FCRA by willfully obtaining a report without
permissible purpose. Count IV alleges invasion of financial privacy under
Massachusetts statute. Count V alleges another state law violation.
In litigation, AT&T did not dispute that it had accessed credit
reports without authority. It argued that the whole four year series of
accessing credit reports, and ignoring complaints, was an understandable
mistake, resulting in a nuisance suit. It was seeking credit reports of Veno's
father, Robert Veno, Sr.
The Court was not impresse with the understandable
mistake argument. It wrote that despite of of Veno's phone calls, letters, and
attorney letters, "AT&T's response to these efforts might best be summarized by
``Ernestine´´, the telephone operator portrayed by Lily Tomlin on ``Saturday
Night Live´´: ``We don't care. We don't have to. We're the phone company.´´"
(The District Court omitted a "snort" from the original. See,
excerpt from episode of
Saturday Night Live.)
However, the bulk of the opinion is devoted to application of
summary judgment standards to each of the counts in the complaint. The opinion
thus contains a review of the precedent on FRCA provisions relating to obtaining
credit reports without authorization.
The Court granted AT&T summary judgment on Count I. It dismissed
Count II on its own motion. It lets stand for trial the remaining counts. It
also noted that Veno might want to amend his complaint to add a claim for
violation of the FRCA for negligently obtaining a report without permissible
The Court wrote that "There is at
the very least a triable issue on whether AT&T's conduct meets the ``willful´´
standard required under FCRA, 15 U.S.C. § 1681n."
This case is Robert Veno v. AT&T, U.S. District Court of
the District of Massachusetts, D.C. No. 02-10383-NG, Judge Nancy Gertner
|Ferguson Addresses Information Tech and
1/4. Federal Reserve Board (FRB)
Vice Chairman Roger
Ferguson gave a
speech titled "Lessons from Past Productivity Booms" in which he addressed,
among other topics, the relationship between advances in information technology
and economic growth. He spoke to the American Economic Association in San Diego,
He began by observing that labor productivity "has risen at an average annual
rate of about 3 percent, up from an average annual rate of around 1-1/2 percent
between 1973 and 1995." He said that "If productivity were to continue to
improve at an average annual rate of 3 percent, the standard of living in the
United States would double roughly every twenty-four years." He then set out to
identify and explain the history of productivity growth of the U.S. economy. One
of the causes of productivity growth that he discussed was news technologies.
He stated that "Although the productivity booms of the past century and a
quarter obviously differed in many respects, each episode can readily be
associated with the introduction of one or more new technologies." For example,
he identified the development of railroads, the telegraph, and electrification
of factories as technologies that drove prior periods of high productivity
(at right) continues that "For purposes of comparison, the technological origins
of the more recent computer revolution also bear a brief mention. Obviously, the
invention of the transistor and the development of the mainframe computer were
precursors of the technological advances that contributed to the current
productivity boom. However, the real drivers of the productivity gains in the
1990s were the related high-tech innovations of the 1970s and 1980s, including
the personal computer, fiber optics, wireless communications, and the Internet."
He added that "Many of the recent technological innovations have
significantly altered how firms interact with their customers, in ways that have
raised the productivity of the economy. In the retail sector, the Internet
stores made popular by Amazon.com have been adopted by nearly all large retail
chains; in banking, it is now routine for customers to pay bills online; and for
airlines, Internet reservations and e-tickets are the norm. Moreover, throughout
the goods economy, from manufacturing to retailing, innovations in inventory
management practices made possible by new technologies have substantially
spoken on past occasions about the technology and productivity. See, for
speech of October 24, 2002, and story titled "FRB Vice Chairman Addresses
Impact of Computer and Software Technology on Productivity Gains" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 535, October 25, 2002. See also,
speech of April 5, 2003, and story titled "FRB Vice Chairman Ferguson
Addresses Business Method Patents" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 639, April 8, 2003.
FRB Chairman Alan Greenspan also gave a
speech on productivity gains on October 23, 2002. See also, story in
TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 534, October 24, 2002.
And, of course, Federal Reserve economists have been studying this subject.
See, for example,
article [30 pages in PDF] titled "Information Technology and Productivity:
Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going?" by Stephen Oliner and Daniel Sichel,
also published in the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Economic Review,
Third Quarter 2002,
Volume 87, Part 3, at pages 15-44.
|Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
|Tuesday, January 6
The House is in adjournment. (It will convene on January 20, 2004.)
The Senate is in adjournment. (It will convene on January 20, 2004.)
Supreme Court is in recess. (It will return on January
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications
Bar Association's (FCBA) Mass Media Practice Committee
will hold a brown bag lunch titled "Meet the Trade Press". The speakers
will be Bill McConnell (Broadcasting and Cable), Brooks Boliek (Hollywood
Reporter), Mike Feazel (Communications Daily), Ted Hearn (Multichannel News),
Susan Crabtree (Variety), and Leslie Stimson (Radio World). Location: 8th
Floor Conference Room, Dow Lohnes & Albertson, 1200 New Hampshire Ave., NW.
Deadline to submit reply comments to the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) regarding its notice of proposed
rulemaking (NPRM) regarding human exposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy.
The FCC adopted this notice of proposed rulemaking on June 12, 2003, and
released it on June 26, 2003. This is ET Docket No. 03-137. For more
information, contact Robert Cleveland in the FCC's
Office of Engineering and Technology at
202 418-2422 or email@example.com.
notice in the Federal Register, September 8, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 173, at
Pages 52879 - 52889.
|Wednesday, January 7
10:00 AM. The U.S.
Court of Appeals (FedCir) will hear oral argument in Webmethods v. iWork
Software, No. 03-1410. This is a patent infringement case brought by iWork
Software in the U.S. District Court (NDIll).
Webmethods moved to intervene pursuant to Rule 24, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but
the District Court denied the motion. Location: Courtroom 402, 717 Madison Place, NW.
4:00 - 5:30 PM. Sydney Key (Federal Reserve System) will
discuss his new book titled
The Doha Round and Financial Services Negotiations.
Bernard Hoekman (World Bank), Peter Wallison (AEI), and Claude Barfield (AEI) will then
discuss the book. See,
notice. Location: American Enterprise Institute
(AEI), Twelfth floor, 1150 17th St., NW.
|Thursday, January 8
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM. The
American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host a
pair of panel discussions titled "Expensing Employee Stock Options Looks Like a
Major Mistake". The speakers will include Kevin Hassett (AEI), Charles Calomiris
(Columbia University), James Glassman (AEI), Peter Wallison (AEI), Paul Atkins (SEC),
and George Benston (Emory University). See,
notice. Location: AEI, Twelfth floor, 1150 17th St., NW.
|Friday, January 9
10:00 AM. The U.S.
Court of Appeals (FedCir) will hear oral argument in Fujitsu Compound
Semiconductor v. U.S., No. 03-1293. Location: Courtroom 201, 717 Madison Place,
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications
Bar Association's (FCBA) Wireless Committee will host a luncheon. Mark Rubin (Western
Wireless) and Marie Gillory (National Telephone Cooperative Association) will speak on
universal service and the distribution of funding in rural areas. The price to
attend is $15. RSVP to Wendy Parish at firstname.lastname@example.org
by 5:00 PM on Wednesday, January 7. For more information, contact Laura Phillips at 202
842-8891 or email@example.com. Location: Sidley
Austin, 1501 K Street, NW, 6th Floor.
EXTENDED TO JANUARY 23.
Deadline to submit comments to the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [35 pages in PDF] regarding unlicensed devices. See,
in the Federal Register, December 10, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 237, at Pages 68823 -
68831. The FCC adopted this NPRM on September 10, 2003. See, FCC
release [PDF]. The FCC released the
NPRM [35 pages in PDF] on September 17, 2003. This NPRM is FCC 03-223 in ET Docket
No. 03-201. See also, stories titled "FCC Announces NPRM Regarding Unlicensed
TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No.
739, September 15, 2003, and "FCC Announces Deadlines for Comments on Unlicensed
Devices NPRM" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 800, December 16, 2003.
|Monday, January 12
Court will return from the recess that it began on December 15, 2003.
Court will hear oral argument in Nixon v. Missouri
Municipal League, and related petitions, regarding
47 U.S.C. § 253(a) and
state statutes that prohibit political subdivisions from offering telecommunications
services. See, story titled "Supreme Court Grants Certiorari in Nixon v. Missouri
Municipal League" in TLJ
Daily E-Mail Alert No. 687, June 25, 2003, and "Briefs Filed With Supreme
Court in Nixon v. Missouri Municipal League" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No.
776, November 11, 2003. Location: 1 First St., NW.
Deadline to submit comments to the
Department of Commerce's (DOC)
Industry and Security (BIS), which is also known as the Bureau of Export
Administration (BXA), regarding its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM)
regarding amending the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to implement a
revised version of the BIS's Simplified Network Application Processing (SNAP+)
system. This proposed rule also would mandate use of SNAP+ for all filings of
Export License applications (except Special Comprehensive Licenses), Reexport
Authorization requests, Classification requests, Encryption Review requests,
and License Exception AGR notifications, unless the BIS authorizes paper
filing for a particular user or transaction. See,
notice in the Federal Register, November 12, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 218, at
|Tuesday, January 13
9:00 AM. The North American Numbering Council (NANC)
will meet. See,
notice in the Federal Register, December 2, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 231, at
Page 67441. Location: FCC, 445 12th Street, SW, Room TW-C305.
9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals
(DCCir) will hear oral argument in Carol De La Hunt v. FCC, No. 03-1029.
Judges Edwards, Roberts and Williams will preside. Location: 333 Constitution Ave. NW.
3:00 - 6:00 PM. The National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) will
meet. The NIAC advises the President on the security of information systems
for critical infrastructure supporting other sectors of the economy, including
banking and finance, transportation, energy, manufacturing, and emergency
government services. For more information, contact Nancy Wong at 202 482-7488.
notice in the Federal Register, December 24, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 247, at
Pages 74624 - 74625. Location: Room 207, Washington Convention Center, 801
Mount Vernon Place, NW.
6:00 - 8:15 PM. The
Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA)
will host a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program titled "FCC Equipment
Regulation". The speakers will be Henry Goldberg (Goldberg Godles),
Lazarus (Fletcher Heald & Hildreth), Richard Fabina (FCC's
Office of Engineering and
Technology), Cathy Zima (FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau), and Brian Butler
(FCC's Enforcement Bureau). The prices to attend range from $50 to $125. For more
information, contact Mitchell Lazarus at 703 812-0440 or
Skadden Arps, 700 14th Street, NW, 11th Floor.
|About Tech Law Journal
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