|House Passes PHONE Act
12/16. The House passed HR 1110
the "Preventing Harassment through Outbound Number Enforcement Act of 2009",
or "PHONE Act", by a vote of 418-1. See,
Roll Call No. 986.
This is a bill to create a criminal prohibition of certain caller ID spoofing. That
is, this bill addresses caller ID spoofing, and the associated fraud and identity theft,
by amending criminal law. This is within the jurisdiction of the
House Judiciary Committee (HJC) and
Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC).
Enforcement authority under this bills lies with the Department of Justice (DOJ).
There are also related bills that address caller ID spoofing by amending
communications law. This is within the jurisdiction of the
House Commerce Committee (HCC)
and Senate Commerce Committee (SCC).
Enforcement authority under this approach lies with the Federal Communications
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-NC)
introduced HR 1110 on February 23, 2009. It was referred to the
House Judiciary Committee (HJC), which
amended and approved it on October 7, 2009. See,
Report No. 111-321.
There is a related bill, HR 1258
the "Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009", introduced by
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) on March 3, 2009,
that would amend the Communications Act to prohibit transmitting certain
misleading or inaccurate caller ID information in voice communications, and
require the FCC to write implementing regulations within six months.
The HCC's Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet (SCTI)
marked up HR 1258 on October 8, 2009. See, story titled "House
Communications Subcommittee Approves Truth in Caller ID Act" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert
No. 2,000, October 9, 2009. However, the full HCC has not marked up that
The companion bill to HR 1258 in the Senate is S 30
also titled the "Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009".
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced
it on January 7, 2009. The SCC amended and approved it on November 2, 2009.
The full Senate has yet to pass any bill related to caller ID spoofing.
HR 1110, the bill just passed by the House, would add a new Section 1041 to
Title 18 (the criminal code) that would provide that "Whoever, in or affecting
interstate or foreign commerce, knowingly uses or provides to another (1) false
caller ID information with intent wrongfully to obtain anything of value; or (2)
caller ID information pertaining to an actual person or other entity without
that person's or entity's consent and with intent to deceive any person or other
entity about the identity of the caller ... shall be punished ..."
It would define "caller ID information" as "any identifying information
regarding the origination of a telephone call, including the name or the
telephone number of the caller, that is transmitted with the telephone call".
Like most statutes that ban certain conduct in communications or on the
internet, this bill would carve out exceptions for law enforcement and
It would provide that it does not prohibit any "lawfully authorized
investigative, protective, or intelligence activity of a law enforcement agency
of the United States, a State, or a political subdivision of a State, or of an
intelligence agency of the United States, or any activity authorized" under
Chapter 224, regarding relocation and protection of witnesses.
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the
Chairman of the HJC, stated in the House that "the technology needed to spoof
has become readily available through the purchase of Internet telephone
equipment, or through Web sites specifically set up for that purpose." See,
Congressional Record, December 15, 2009, at Pages H14896-7.
Lamar Smith (R-TX) (at right), the
ranking Republican on the HJC, stated in the House that "Spoofing is a ploy for
obtaining a victim's personal and financial information to commit identity theft
and other similar fraud. It involves masking caller ID information to make a
fraudulent telephone call to a recipient. Those who engage in spoofing use
incorrect, fake or fraudulent caller identification to hide their identity and
then obtain personal information from the victim. Call recipients unwittingly
divulge their names, addresses or Social Security numbers under the mistaken
belief that the caller represents a bank, a credit card company or even a court
of law. All too often, a person does not know that their identity has been
stolen until it's too late and the damage has been done."
|House Passes Low Power FM Radio
12/16. The House passed HR 1147
the "Local Community Radio Act of 2009", by voice vote. The related
bill in the Senate was approved by the Senate
Commerce Committee (SCC) last month.
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), the
Chairman of the House Commerce Committee's (HCC) Subcommittee on Communications,
Technology and the Internet (SCTI), stated in the House that HR 1147 "will
provide additional opportunities to create new low-power FM radio stations by allowing
their operation on third adjacent channels to the full-power radio stations."
See, Congressional Record, December 15, 2009, at Pages H14903-7.
Boucher (at right) continued that "Low-power stations, which are community-based
nonprofits which operate at 100 watts or less of power and which have a
broadcast reach, typically, of only a few miles, play a unique role in our
media. They are far more likely than their full-power counterparts to be owned
by women or minorities, and they are an important forum for local clergy, for
educational institutions, and for a wide array of community leaders to have a
say on important local issues."
He also explained that it directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to
allow the operation of low power FM (LPFM) stations "on third channel adjacencies
to the full-power FM stations and FM translator and booster stations. It retains
the FCC's existing minimum distance separation requirements for FM stations that
provide radio reading services for the visually impaired. At the same time, the
bill provides for remediation of interference complaints between low-power FM
stations and full-power stations as well as FM translator and booster stations.
The measure directs the FCC to conduct an economic study of the effect of
low-power FM stations on full service commercial stations and to submit those
findings to the Congress within 1 year."
Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), the lead cosponsor of
the bill, stated in the House that "this bill has the potential to revolutionize what
Americans hear on their radios and that it will provide an exciting new platform for
citizens to communicate with one another within their own local communities and
Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), the sponsor of the bill,
stated that "Where they are allowed to exist under current law, LPFM stations have
proved to be a vital source of information during local or national emergencies. These
stations promote the arts and education from religious organizations, community groups,
organizations promoting literacy, and from many other civically oriented
He added that "all five FCC commissioners agreed that Congress should lift
the restrictions on LPFM stations and should allow the FCC to license new stations
in more communities." And, he said that this bill "does just that".
Rep. Doyle introduced this bill on February 24, 2009. The HCC/SCTI held a
hearing on June 11, 2009, and marked up this bill on October 8, 2009. See, story
titled "House Communications Subcommittee Approves LPFM Bill" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert
No. 2,000, October 9, 2009. The full HCC marked up the bill on October 15, 2009.
Report No. 111-375, and story titled "House Commerce Committee Approves LPFM
Bill" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,004, October 16, 2009.
The Senate has not yet passed this bill. There is also a related bill in the Senate,
S 592 [LOC |
WW], also titled
the "Local Community Radio Act of 2009".
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced it on
March 12, 2009. The Senate Commerce Committee (SCC) amended and approved it on November
The FCC's LPFM rulemaking proceeding is MM Docket No. 99-25. See also,
the FCC's LPFM web site.
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|This issue contains the following items:
• House Passes PHONE Act
• House Passes Low Power FM Radio Bill
• House Passes CALM Act
New items are highlighted in
|Saturday, December 19
The Senate will meet at 6:45 AM. It will
resume consideration of of HR 3326
defense appropriations bill.
The House will not meet the week of
December 21-25. See, Rep. Hoyer's
release. See also, Section 11 of
Deadline to submit comments to the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) in response to its
Notice (PN) [5 pages in PDF] that requests public comments regarding the
possibility of reallocating television spectrum for wireless broadband. See, story
titled "FCC Seeks Comments on Reallocation of Spectrum from TV to Wireless
Broadband" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,019, December 2, 2009. This PN is
DA 09-2518 in GN Docket Nos. 09-47, 09-51, and 09-137.
Deadline to submit comments to the Board of Governors of the Federal
Reserve System regarding its changes to its rules and staff commentary
regarding limitations on issuers' ability to impose dormancy, inactivity,
or service fees for certain prepaid products, such as store gift cards and
pre-paid cards. (These rules continue to exempt wireless phone cards, pre-paid
VOIP cards, and related telecommunications products.) See,
notice in the
Federal Register, November 20, 2009, Vol. 74, No. 223, at Pages 60985-61012.
No events listed.
No events listed.
|Thursday, December 24
10:00 AM. The
Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC)
may hold an executive business meeting. The agenda includes consideration of
the nomination of Rogeriee Thompson to be a Judge of the
U.S. Court of Appeals (1stCir). See,
Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
Deadline to submit comments to the
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding its
consent agreement with Panasonic Corporation and Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. regarding
Panasonic's acquisition of Sanyo, subject to Sanyo's divestment of its assets
relating to the manufacture and sale of portable NiMH batteries to FDK Corporation.
See, notice in the
Federal Register, December 1, 2009, Vol. 229, No. 74, at Pages 62778-62780.
|Friday, December 25
Christmas Day. This is a federal holiday. See, Office of
Personnel Management's (OPM)
page titled "2009 Federal Holidays".
|Monday, December 28
The House will not meet the week of December 28 through
January 1. See, Rep. Hoyer's
release. See also, Section 11 of
Deadline to submit applications to Google for "Google Policy
Fellowships" for the summer of 2010 at various public policy groups. See,
Google notice, and
story titled "Google to Fund Summer Internships at Tech Policy Groups"
in TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 2,014, November 12, 2009.
|House Passes CALM Act
12/15. The House passed HR 1084
"Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act", or CALM Act, by voice
This bill requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to set standards on
the permissible volume levels for commercials on broadcast, satellite and cable
television. It requires the FCC to incorporate by reference the standards developed
by an industry group.
This bill provides that within one year of enactment the FCC "shall prescribe
... a regulation that is limited to incorporating by reference and making mandatory
(subject to any waivers the Commission may grant pursuant to subsection (b)(2)) the
``Recommended Practice: Techniques for Establishing and Maintaining Audio Loudness
for Digital Television'' (A/85), and any successor thereto, approved by the Advanced
Television Systems Committee, only insofar as such recommended practice concerns
the transmission of commercial advertisements by a television broadcast station,
cable operator, or other multichannel video programming distributor."
The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC)
is an industry group. The bill as introduced had directed the FCC to come up with
The bill also contains a limited time financial hardship provision. It
provides that "For any television broadcast station, cable operator, or other
multichannel video programming distributor that demonstrates that obtaining the
equipment to comply with the regulation adopted pursuant to subsection (a) would
result in financial hardship, the Federal Communications Commission may grant a
waiver of the effective date set forth in paragraph (1) for 1 year and may renew
such waiver for 1 additional year."
Anna Eshoo (D-CA) (at left), the bill's sponsor, stated in the House that this
bill "is designed to eliminate the earsplitting levels of television advertisements
and return control of television sound modulation to the American consumer". See,
Congressional Record, December 15, 2009, at Pages H14907-10.
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), the Chairman
of the House Commerce Committee's (HCC)
Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet (SCTI), stated in the House
that "We can take this step in a way that the industry finds acceptable. The
television industry-based Advanced TV Systems Committee has developed the technical
standards that are appropriate to control variations in commercial loudness. The industry
has approved that standard and the bill before us directs the Federal Communications
Commission to incorporate that standard in a rulemaking."
Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) stated
in the House "this issue is a little bit more complex than it appears. Many
different entities are responsible for producing and distributing the content
that consumers hear and see in their living rooms. Each element may be recorded
and provided at a different respective volume level. Moreover, shows and movies
have a dynamic sound range to cover everything from a quiet scene to a huge
explosion. Commercials, meanwhile, tend to have a narrow sound range. Volume
levels are typically set for the programming, which can simply throw off the
volume levels for the commercial. But as I pointed out earlier, now we have a
solution in place because the transition to digital has made that possible."
He continued that the ATSC and its Subgroup on Digital Television Loudness, a
group of "technical experts" from the "private sector", have
"crafted a hard-fought consensus on a recommended practice that should be employed
across the TV industry".
Rep. Eshoo introduced this bill on February 13, 2009. The HCC/SCTI held a hearing
on June 11, 2009, and marked up this bill on October 8, 2009. See story titled
"House Communications Subcommittee Approves Bill to Limit Loud Ads" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert
No. 2,000, October 9, 2009. The full HCC approved the bill on November 19, 2009.
Report No. 111-374.
The Senate has not passed HR 1084. However,
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
introduced the companion bill in the Senate, S 2847
December 8, 2009. That bill has been referred to the
Senate Commerce Committee (SCC).