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Does a Corporation Have "Personal Privacy"

June 2, 2010 - 02:28 PM

Does a corporation have "personal privacy?"  The FCC didn't think so, but a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, AT&T v. Federal Communications Commission (No. 08-4024), says "yes" -- at least when a corporation tries to block a federal agency from releasing certain records concerning the corporation's potential wrongdoing under the Freedom of Information Act (commonly known as the "FOIA").

The FOIA is a federal law that permits the public to request and obtain copies of records from the United States Government.  In general, the law requires that federal agencies grant such requests and release the requested records unless the records at issue are covered by one or more of FOIA's statutory exemptions.  One of those exemptions, known as Exemption 7(C), protects from mandatory disclosure agency records or information that have been compiled for law enforcement purposes where the public disclosure of the records could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of "personal privacy."

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More on Speed: Just How Satisfied Are Customers

June 2, 2010 - 01:54 PM

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Our survey report on broadband speed yesterday attracted national attention and some additional questions. We've been asked for more detail on our findings about customer satisfaction with broadband speed. As we reported, 91 percent of fixed broadband customers are "very" or "somewhat" satisfied with that service, compared to 71 percent who are satisfied with the speed of mobile broadband. A closer look gives a fuller picture.

For fixed broadband, 50 percent of customers were very satisfied with the service overall, 41 percent were somewhat satisfied, 6 percent were "not too" satisfied, and 3 percent were not satisfied at all.

For mobile broadband, we asked specifically about satisfaction with speed, a slightly different question. Here, the numbers were lower: 33 percent very satisfied, 38 percent somewhat satisfied, 8 percent not too satisfied, and 5 percent not satisfied at all. (The other 14 percent said they didn't know.)

What to make of these numbers? A few things.

First, consumers are fairly well satisfied with the speed of the broadband they get at home. Having 50 percent say they are "very satisfied" is a strong showing, although it still leaves room for improvement. Even if people are satisfied with their home broadband speed, however, they may be paying hundreds of dollars a year more than they need to. Consumers still need better information to know what speed they need for the applications they run. And given the split between "very" and "somewhat" satisfied customers, more information on broadband speed would also help consumers choose between different providers.

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Broadband Speed: When Ignorance is Costly

June 2, 2010 - 10:55 AM

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For several months, the FCC has been working to help consumers get more information about the communications services they buy. Our Notice of Inquiry last August asked how we can help consumers make more informed choices about phone, television, and broadband services. That Notice brought out a lot of good ideas from public interest groups, the communications industries, and consumers themselves.

This year, we've followed up with a number of consumer initiatives coordinated by the FCC's Consumer Task Force. We've written letters to wireless carriers about their early termination fees, taken on the problem of bill shock, and started to look at broadband speed.

Today, we're releasing the results of a national survey that shows just how large the information gap is when it comes to broadband. According to this survey, fully 80 percent of Americans with broadband at home don't know what speed they're getting. This survey was done through a major firm and drew on a national sample of three thousand consumers.

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Our Sleeves Are Rolled Up: We Are Ready to Do Whatever It Takes

May 28, 2010 - 02:15 PM

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The 2010 Hurricane Season forecasts predict as many as 15 named Atlantic storms, several of which could reach hurricane-level strength in the Southeast and Gulf Coast.

In my job with the Federal Communications Commission, I am constantly impressed with the leadership, dedication and true heroism of America’s first responders, all of whom make daily sacrifices to serve their communities.  Nearly five years after Hurricane Katrina I still remember hearing the stories following that devastating disaster about how first responders and hospital personnel were stranded in New Orleans without communications and had only limited essential resources with which to survive. Like many others in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, some local public safety officials and first responders were stranded on rooftops, but were still making efforts to assist those in need, to do what they could to help others survive until rescue teams could get to them.  Their efforts were amazing and showed that they were willing to do whatever it took to get the job done—even in the most challenging and trying circumstances.

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21st Century Emergency Alerting: Leveraging Multiple Technologies to Bring Alerts and Warnings to the Public

May 26, 2010 - 11:51 AM

When potential threats to life and property are imminent or disasters strike without warning as did the tornadoes in Oklahoma and Kansas that claimed innocent lives recently, we all know how critical it is for all of us to receive timely alerts and warnings, access to the latest information about an emergency situation and guidance from government officials on what we should do to protect ourselves and our families. Early and accurate public alerts are a key element in all of this and can make the difference between life and death.

On June 10, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will co-host a workshop to address emergency alerting. This workshop – 21st Century Emergency Alerting – will bring together experts from Federal and state government agencies, the broadcast, cable, wireless and wireline industries, the disability community and others to discuss how we as a Nation can leverage multiple technologies to provide timely and accurate emergency alerts to the public. The workshop will also present an opportunity for the public to learn about the progress that has been made to enhance the Emergency Alert System (EAS), develop and deploy the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) and develop and deploy the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).

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Public Safety Outreach in the Carolinas

May 25, 2010 - 02:00 PM

By Louis Sigalos, Robert Kenny, Todd Mitchell, Paul Coburn, and Doug Miller, Public Safety Outreach Team.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:150:height=98,width=70]]With an outreach and education mission, traveling via the long lonesome highway, covering two states in three days, five intrepid travelers set forth from the comfort of their offices on May 11, 2010.  And now members of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) and the Enforcement Bureau have met with public safety officials in two more states that could be vulnerable during the upcoming hurricane season. We were also joined by a National Communications System (NCS) staff member.  A similar outreach tour with our federal partners of the Gulf States in 2009 included stops in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida and meetings with more than 350 public safety officials to hear their stories.  Now, we have added the Atlantic Coast States of South Carolina and North Carolina.

In South Carolina, we learned that the biggest concerns are hurricanes, nuclear plant disasters, hazmat spills, AND earthquakes. In fact, that morning of May 12, residents in Charleston, SC experienced an earthquake that registered 2.8 on the Richter scale.  The state sits on a fault line, and unfortunately projections do call for a much larger earthquake to occur in that region at some point according to scientists.  We were also invited by South Carolina officials to participate in a major planning exercise being conducted in June and we learned that South Carolina has implemented a program called SC HEART that enlists hospital workers/HAM operators to provide back-up communications during emergencies.

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Reflections from the Chairman on the May Commission Meeting

May 21, 2010 - 01:28 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:234:height=102,width=70]]Chairman Genachowski provides his thoughts on yesterday’s Open Commission Meeting in the below video blog.

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Your input matters - Consolidated Licensing System (CLS) outreach continues

May 21, 2010 - 12:10 PM

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Following our first CLS Public Workshop on May 6th we are actively continuing our efforts to get customer input. On May 18th we were invited to hold a CLS brainstorming session at the Spectrum Management Association Conference in Arlington, VA.

This was a very active session reinforcing many of the insightful suggestions we received at the earlier workshop. The participants at this session included: licensee, third party filers, and other federal government agencies. Many of the participants offered a unique perspective and very valuable feedback.

The suggestions ranged for recommendations for improving the access, and search capabilities to our licensing data, to collecting additional technical data in CLS. Participants also offered suggestions on cleaning up the data in the Commission Registration System (CORES) and recommended creating linkages between the Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) Database and CLS.

The recommendations did not stop there; we went on to discuss enhanced mapping capabilities as well as the need for user testing, training and manuals as we move forward with the new system.

When addressing participants at the CLS Public Workshop on May 6th Mary Beth Richards, Special Counsel to the Chairman on FCC Forum reinforced that we need to hear from you. She asked participants "to please be forthcoming, and creative, and that we look forward to hearing from you." It was obvious at this session that our customers are up to the task.

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State and Local Groups: FCC Webinar Event on May 25th

May 21, 2010 - 11:08 AM

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SAVE THE DATE:  Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm Eastern time

The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA) is staffing a special series of interactive web events.  These outreach webinars are designed to share vital information about Commission actions and priorities and improve federal/state dialogue and information sharing.

The first of this event series, similar to some of the National Broadband Plan workshops that took place at the Commission, will take place on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm Eastern time. The FCC is seeking a two way dialogue on key events and issues related to telecommunications and for us to learn and/or partner with state and local governments and their organizations.

You can view the webcast at fcc.gov/live.

The e-mail address where questions can be e-mailed on May 25th during the webcast is:  livequestions@fcc.gov.

For more information about the kick-off State and Local Groups Webinar, contact:
Emmitt Carlton, emmitt.carlton@fcc.gov, (202) 418-7321 or
Carmen Scanlon, carmen.scanlon@fcc.gov, (303) 418-0544

AGENDA

2:05 - 2:10 p.m.: Opening Session, Welcoming Remarks
Gregory Vadas, Chief
Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

2:10 - 2:35 p.m.: Overview of the National Broadband Plan
Phoebe Yang, General Counsel
Omnibus Broadband Initiative

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FCC Grants in Part, Denies in Part NARUC Petition on State Broadband Data Collection

May 18, 2010 - 07:09 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:255:height=100,width=70]]I joined IGA as a Special Counsel in July 2009 after working as an Attorney, FCC Office of General Counsel, Associate Director,  Office of Legislative Affairs, Chief Counsel and Staff Director, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, and Staff Attorney, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure. Since 1985, I’ve also been an Adjunct Professor, Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America, teaching media law and First Amendment law.

In an action that should be of interest to followers of state broadband deployment and mapping initiatives, the FCC on April 26, 2010, granted in part and denied in part a Petition for Declaratory Ruling filed by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). The petition concerned state authority to collect data from broadband infrastructure and service providers.

The Commission clarified, as NARUC requested in its petition, that the FCC “has not preempted or otherwise precluded the States from mandating that broadband providers file data or other information regarding broadband infrastructure or services within the States.”  Citing the Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA), the FCC Order on the NARUC petition notes that “Congress recognized in the BDIA that State broadband data gathering can be ‘complementary’ to federal efforts.”

The Commission, however, declined to rule on the question of whether or not the States have or should have the authority to collect broadband-related data.

Click here for more information on the NARUC petition.

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