TLJ News from March 16-20, 2014

Netflix's Hastings Complains About Lack of Interconnectivity

3/20. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings published a piece in the Netflix web site titled "Internet Tolls And The Case For Strong Net Neutrality".

He argues that "net neutrality must be defended and strengthened" to deal with the "lack of sufficient interconnectivity" by some broadband internet access service (BIAS) providers.

He wrote that "The essence of net neutrality is that ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast don't restrict, influence or otherwise meddle with the choices consumers make. The traditional form of net neutrality which was recently overturned by a Verizon lawsuit is important, but insufficient."

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Free Press Wants BIAS Reclassified As Title II Service

3/20. The Free Press (FP), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other interest groups sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging the FCC to reclassify broadband internet access service (BIAS) as a Title II telecommunications under the Communications Act.

They wrote that "The D.C. Circuit’s decision in Verizon v. FCC dealt a huge blow to the open Internet", and urged the FCC "to use your clear authority under Title II of the Communications Act to protect the open Internet".

They asserted that "With the court's decision, however, broadband providers are now free to block or discriminate against online content, services and applications. Allowing broadband providers to control this once-open platform shifts power away from communities and individuals and toward entrenched companies like AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon. This will have a chilling effect on our rights to access, report and share information."

They concluded "the FCC must reclassify broadband access services as telecommunications services to prevent discrimination and blocking online".

People and Appointments

3/20. The Proskauer law firm announced in a release that Christopher Ondeck, who previously worked at Crowell Moring, has joined the Washington DC office of Proskauer as Vice Chair of its Antitrust Group.

FTC Seeks Comments on Proposed COPPA Safe Harbor

3/19. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a notice in the Federal Register (FR) and a notice in its web site that request public comments on the proposed guidelines [56 pages in PDF] submitted pursuant to the safe harbor provision of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and FTC rules thereunder, by the Internet Keep Safe Coalition, which is also named iKeepSafe.

The text of the proposed guidelines published by the FTC for public comment redacts information about the Coalition's budget, its price schedule for member companies, and most of its questionnaire for member companies titled "Data Practices Assessment", which assists it in assessing practices related to collection and handling of data from users under 13.

The Coalition states in its web site that its "corporate partners" include, among others, AT&T, Comcast, Facebook, Fox Interactive Media, Google, and Microsoft.

The deadline to submit comments is April 21, 2014. See, FR, Vol. 79, No. 53, March 19, 2014, at Pages 15271-15272.

The COPPA, which is codified at 15 U.S.C. §§ 6501-6506, bans operators of web sites and online services that are directed to children from collecting information from children under thirteen without parental consent.

The statute, at 15 U.S.C. § 6502, states that "It is unlawful for an operator of a website or online service directed to children, or any operator that has actual knowledge that it is collecting personal information from a child, to collect personal information from a child in a manner that violates the regulations prescribed under subsection (b) of this section."

Section 6503 provides for the safe harbor. It provides in part that "An operator may satisfy the requirements of regulations issued under section 6502(b) of this title by following a set of self-regulatory guidelines, issued by representatives of the marketing or online industries, or by other persons" that has been approved by the FTC.

The FTC has adopted and amended rules pursuant to this subsection (b), which are codified at 16 CFR part 312. It last amended these rules in December of 2012. See, story titled "FTC Releases Expanded COPPA Rules" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,494, December 19, 2012.

The FTC's safe harbor rule is codified at 16 CFR 312.10. It provides in part that "An operator will be deemed to be in compliance with the requirements of this part if that operator complies with self-regulatory guidelines, issued by representatives of the marketing or online industries, or by other persons, that, after notice and comment, are approved by the Commission."

The FTC asks in its FR notice, for example, "Are the mechanisms used to assess operators' compliance with the proposed guidelines effective?", "Are the incentives for operators' compliance with the proposed guidelines effective?", "Do the proposed guidelines provide adequate means for resolving consumer complaints?", and "Does iKeepSafe have the capability to run an effective safe harbor program?".

The FTC has approved six safe harbor programs submitted by Aristotle Inc., the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, TrustE, PRIVO, and KidSAFE.

More News

3/19. The Department of Commerce's (DOC) Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published a notice in the Federal Register (FR) that announces, describes, recites, and sets the effective date (March 19) for, its rules titled "Export Administration Regulations". The changes pertain only to statements of authority for these rules. These rules implement the Export Administration Act, which expired in 2001. The BIS regulates, among other things, the export of many IT products. See, FR, Vol. 79, No. 53, March 19, 2014, and Pages 15219-15220.

People and Appointments

3/18. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Thomas Wheeler appointed Diane Cornell to the FCC's Performance Review Board (PRB). See, notice in the Federal Register, Vol. 79, No. 52, March 18, 2014, at Page 15122.

More News

3/18. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) released a report [70 pages in PDF] titled "Universal Service Implementation Progress Report". This is WC Docket No. 10-90.

3/18. The Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy published a notice in the Federal Register (FR) that contains "guidance" regarding "energy code compliance software". See, FR, Vol. 79, No. 52, March 18, 2014, at Pages 15112-15113.

Copyright Office Seeks Comments on Music Licensing

3/17. The Copyright Office (CO) published a notice in the Federal Register (FR) that "announces the initiation of a study to evaluate the effectiveness of existing methods of licensing music". This notice contains a summary of current music licensing practices and laws, and 24 questions for public comment.

The CO seeks public comments to assist it in preparing a report for the Congress. The House Judiciary Committee (HJC) has several related hearings in the 113th Congress.

The deadline to submit comments is May 16, 2014. See, FR, Vol. 79, No. 51, March 17, 2014, at Pages 14739-14743. This notice adds that the CO will hold hearings after the close of the comment period.

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