FCC Emphasizes Limits On Local Fees For Small-Cell Facilities

Wireless telecom providers have been deploying new small-cell technology and equipment for 5G service across the nation.  Deployment often requires the providers to obtain access to public rights of way to put their small-cell equipment on cities’ or municipalities’ utility poles (or use underground ducts or conduit).  Cities and municipalities, of course, seek compensation for allowing this access to public equipment and rights-of-way.  The FCC addressed this compensation issue in 2018, setting safe-harbor caps on local fees but allowing higher charges if they meet certain requirements.  Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment, 33 FCC Rcd 9088 (2018).  The Ninth Circuit upheld that decision in relevant part.  City of Portland v. FCC, 969 F.3d 1020 (9th Cir. 2020).

Clark County, Nevada (home of Las Vegas) adopted an ordinance with annual fees well above the FCC’s safe harbors.  The ordinance required holder of a Master Use License Fee to pay 5% of gross revenues each calendar quarter, plus a Wireless Site License Fee of $700 to $3,960/year/facility (with annual increases of 2%), plus an Annual Inspection Fee of $500 per Small Wireless Facility in county rights-of-way.  Verizon challenged that ordinance at the FCC as being preempted by 47 U.S.C. 253(d) because it effectively prohibited Verzon from providing service.  The FCC, through its Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, recently dismissed Verizon’s complaint without prejudice in light of Clark County having adopted a new ordinance.  Petition for Declaratory Ruling That Clark County, Nevada Ordinance No. 4659 is Unlawful Under Section 253 of the Communications Act as Interpreted by the Federal Communications Commission and is Preempted, WT Docket No. 19-230, DA 21-59 (rel. Jan. 14, 2021).   In doing so, however, the FCC emphasized three key aspects of its rules that certainly will bear on any pending or future disputes between wireless providers and other municipalities that seek to impose fees above the FCC’s safe harbors.  These points appear directed at preventing other state or local authorities from making some of the same arguments Clark County was making.

Continue reading “FCC Emphasizes Limits On Local Fees For Small-Cell Facilities”

CJEU Declares Privacy Shield Invalid but Upholds Validity of Model Clauses (Sort Of)

A sense of déjà vu descended over the international data transfer landscape on July 16, 2020. In a landmark ruling, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) announced that Privacy Shield, one of the main mechanisms used by companies to transfer personal data from the EU to the United States, is invalid.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

The First Amendment Protects Radio Hosts Covering Online Attacks Against A Sports Referee

The University of North Carolina (UNC) NCAA men’s basketball team ended the 2017 season for the University of Kentucky (UK) in a controversial game. Indeed, many UK fans blamed their team’s loss on supposed bad calls by a referee, John Higgins.

The wrath of the UK fans was so intense that Higgins received criticisms at his private job. On top of that, two Kentucky Sports Radio (KSR) hosts, Drew Franklin and Matt Jones (the hosts), vented negative comments about Higgins’ officiating. In so doing, the hosts conveyed online attacks that had been posted about Higgins. While reporting about the online attacks, the hosts at times repeated the attacks word for word, while minimally suggesting that fans not promulgate further attacks.

Higgins believed that the attacks and the reporting harmed him personally and his business. He filed suit against KSR and the hosts, alleging various causes of action. The federal district court dismissed the lawsuit based on the First Amendment, and Higgins appealed to the Sixth Circuit. In a recent decision in Higgins v. Kentucky Sports Radio, the Sixth Circuit agreed that the district court correctly dismissed the case on First Amendment grounds. Continue reading “The First Amendment Protects Radio Hosts Covering Online Attacks Against A Sports Referee”

Attorney General Submits Final CCPA Regulations for Approval

On June 1, 2020 the California Attorney General (AG) submitted the final text of the CCPA regulations to the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for approval.  The final regulations appear to be unchanged from the latest draft published on March 11, 2020.

Generally, the OAL has 30 days to review and determine whether to approve the regulations.  But currently, an executive order has granted an additional 60 days to finalize proposed regulations in light of the challenges agencies are facing due to COVID-19.  Additionally, any regulation that is filed June 1 or later would not typically be effective until October 1.  However, an agency can request an earlier effective date if it can demonstrate good cause, which is what the AG has done here.  The AG has requested the OAL approve the regulations within 30 days and that an exception be made such that the regulations will be effective upon filing with the Secretary of State. Continue reading “Attorney General Submits Final CCPA Regulations for Approval”

FTC Clamps Down On Unreliable Coronavirus Marketing Claims

The coronavirus pandemic has caused illnesses, deaths, isolation and tremendous economic disruptions. Not surprisingly, many people are feeling desperate for solutions, and unfortunately, they can fall prey to misleading coronavirus marketing claims.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking to prevent these marketing practices. Indeed, the FTC recently sent ten warning letters to multi-level marketing companies (MLMs) telling them to remove and address claims that the MLMs or their participants are making regarding the supposed ability of products to prevent or treat the coronavirus or about the alleged ability of people to recoup lost income. Continue reading “FTC Clamps Down On Unreliable Coronavirus Marketing Claims”

COVID-19 Responses in the Telecommunications Industry

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, legislators and telecommunications regulators have focused primarily on promoting telemedicine, remote learning and better availability of broadband service in general, as well as ensuring that low-income customers will be able to keep their telephone and broadband service during the crisis.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Top Tips: Keeping Data Safe When Working Remotely

By John M. Benjamin and Edward Pickard

The coronavirus pandemic has had a severe impact on businesses right across the globe and with a third of the world now in lockdown, thousands of businesses have moved most of their workforce to remote working. Although working from home allows a business to continue operating, it brings significant security risks, placing a greater need to maintain compliance with relevant data security requirements.

Maintaining the security of company data is the responsibility of both the employer and employee and continuing to maintain appropriate security measures is critical at this time. Below are some key points for employees and businesses to keep data secure when working remotely. Continue reading “Top Tips: Keeping Data Safe When Working Remotely”

How to Heed Privacy Law in the Midst of a Pandemic

As countries grapple with the global threat of COVID-19, some are leveraging user location data and tracking apps to model potential contamination paths. China has tapped into its facial recognition tools to track the virus and has deployed drones that tell people to wear masks. Singapore has launched an app called TraceTogether which uses Bluetooth to determine who could be at risk of infection. And the United Kingdom is reportedly in talks with telecom providers on how to best use location data to stem the crisis.

But the coronavirus turning the world upside down does not mean companies can throw out the General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act, as well as other privacy protections.

To read an excerpt from this article, which quotes Duane Morris partner Sandra Jeskie, please visit the firm website.

The Internet Can Help When It Comes To The Coronavirus

Modern life of planes, trains and automobiles brings people together in close physical proximity like never before. Once upon a time, and actually not that long ago in human history, most people never saw anyone else outside of their own village or tribe. Those days are gone, and now we frequently are exposed to people from other cities, states, and countries. That is all well and good for the most part in terms of business and pleasure, except, of course, when it comes to the transmission of communicable diseases.

Just a couple months ago, most Americans had not even heard of the coronavirus which began in China and then started to spread. Now we are bombarded 24/7 with news, facts and fiction about the virus on television, radio, news sites, social media, podcasts and in everyday conversation. We are told that the coronavirus is highly contagious, is spreading exponentially, is a pandemic, could be with us for quite some time, and poses grave health dangers for at risk segments of populations. Continue reading “The Internet Can Help When It Comes To The Coronavirus”