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Blog Posts by Kris Monteith

Preventing Smart Phone Theft & Protecting Your Personal Information

by Kris Monteith, Acting Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
April 8, 2015 - 01:41 PM

Combatting smart phone theft is a multi-faceted challenge that requires the efforts of and coordination among industry, consumers, law enforcement and others.  Part of the equation is enforcing the rules the FCC has in place today to protect private customer information.  Second, we must continue to inform consumers of ways to guard against phone theft.  And lastly, we can continue to adopt policies to discourage cell phone theft by preventing re-use.

The FCC has been proactive and strong in its enforcement of our consumer privacy rules.  Just today, the Bureau announced a record-breaking settlement with AT&T to settle an investigation into a data breach that affected nearly 280,000 consumers.  Read more about the settlement: here.

To discourage re-use of stolen devices, Chairman Wheeler has encouraged the industry to make lock/wipe/restore functionality operational by default on all devices.  To help guide us in future policy efforts, Commission’s Technology Advisory Committee compiled a report on smart device theft prevention.

Consumers are encouraged to take the following actions to avoid becoming a victim of smart device theft: 

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Celebrating National Consumer Protection Week

by Kris Monteith, Acting Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
March 2, 2015 - 01:44 PM

This week, March 1-7, 2015, the FCC is celebrating National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), joining with a coalition of more than 85 consumer advocacy groups and federal, state and local government agencies in a coordinated campaign to help raise awareness about consumer protection. Together we’re encouraging consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. 

At an NCPW kickoff event in late February, the FCC  joined a number of coalition member in face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and their staff to discuss consumer issues and disseminate helpful consumer information.

Each day throughout NCPW we encourage you to check our website – http://www.fcc.gov– for tips and links to helpful information about issues such as smart device theft protection, phone bill cramming, accessibility to consumer help, emergency communications, and more.

Our coalition’s web site (http://www.ncpw.gov/) also offers consumers a wealth of tips and information on topics such as finances, health, privacy, technology and more.

You can download and print the materials and share them with friends and neighbors, or order materials from select partners if you're planning a larger event such as a conference or workshop.

The FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau works year-round with the Commission’s other bureaus and offices to educate consumers facing issues and challenges around communications technologies and services, with the goals of consumer protection and empowerment.

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National Consumer Protection Week

by Kris Monteith, Acting Chief, CGB
March 5, 2013 - 04:26 PM

The FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) strives to make life better for the American consumer.  One way we work towards that goal is through partnerships like the one we have with the Federal Trade Commission in celebrating the 22nd Annual National Consumer Protection Week, which runs from March 3-March 9, 2013.  National Consumer Protection Week is a coordinated campaign that encourages consumers to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. 

Here at the FCC, CGB is responsible for developing and implementing the agency’s consumer policies and for educating consumers about the work of the Commission.  We work diligently to ensure consumers have the information and tools available to help them make informed decisions.  For example, you can find consumer guides on our website on topics such as Cramming, Bill Shock, and Slamming.  Our Household Broadband Guide  can be used to compare minimum download speed (Mbps) needs for light, moderate and high household use with one, two, three or four devices at a time (such as a laptop, tablet or game console).  And you can compare typical online activities with the minimum Mbps needed for adequate performance for each application by using our Broadband Speed Guide.

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FCC Chairman Genachowski Honored By D.C. Chief of Police for Spearheading Fight against Smartphone Theft & Related Assaults

by Kris Monteith, Acting Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
March 1, 2013 - 12:29 PM

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Last night, D.C. Chief of Police Cathy Lanier honored Chairman Genachowski with the Chief of Police Medal of Merit Award for spearheading efforts to combat massive nationwide smartphone theft and related assaults.

In April 2012, Chairman Genachowski joined major police department chiefs, including Chief Lanier, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Senator Chuck Schumer, and wireless carriers to announce an industry commitment to develop a shared, centralized database to record unique identifiers of stolen wireless devices in order to prevent reuse and make it harder for thieves to resell them.

I accepted the Chief of Police Medal of Merit Award last night on behalf of Chairman Genachowski at Police Department’s Annual Awards Ceremony. (Chairman Genachowski is currently in California for the FCC’s Second National Hearing on Network Resilience and Reliability.)

As Chief Lanier explained, smartphone theft is a serious issue. In the District of Columbia, New York City, and other major cities, police say as much as 40 percent of all robberies now involve stolen cell phones and other small electronic devices.  These robberies endanger both the physical safety of victims as well as the safety of the information on the stolen devices.

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Lifeline To Our World

by Kris Monteith, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Acting Bureau Chief
September 10, 2012 - 04:53 PM

Imagine for a moment what your life would be like without a phone, corded or wireless. How would you contact emergency services if there was a fire or a serious injury? How would you contact a potential new employer, or keep in touch with a current one? How would you contact your utility company about a power outage, or a doctor about your sick child? How would you keep in touch with your loved ones and your community?; In this day and age, telecommunications services are a real necessity, and not being able to afford them is a real liability.

Since the creation of the Lifeline benefit program in 1984, millions of low-income Americans have depended on it to make basic telecommunications services affordable to them. Without this program, countless households would be deprived of contact with health care providers and government services, access to work opportunities, and communications with family and their communities.; As more and more essential functions and services of our economy and our public sectors shift to wireless and online formats, the Lifeline program has been reformed to help low-income Americans overcome obstacles to Internet access and wireless communications. As part of this effort, the FCC has adopted an express goal for the program of ensuring availability of broadband for all low-income Americans, allowing Lifeline support for bundled services plans combining voice and broadband or packages including optional calling features.

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Supporting Calling Plan Rights for Military Service Members

by Kris Monteith, Acting Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Chief
July 6, 2012 - 03:20 PM

Celebrating the birth of our nation reminds us of the sacrifices our forefathers made for our liberty, and the sacrifices the men and women of our armed services continue to make today to ensure we remain free.

Here at the FCC, we remind U.S. service members of their rights regarding mobile/wireless calling plans under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

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A Call for Nominations: FCC Chairman's Awards for Advancement in Accessibility

by Kris Monteith, Acting Bureau Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
June 14, 2012 - 07:08 AM

The Commission recently announced that it would be accepting nominations for the second annual Chairman's Awards for Advancement in Accessibility (Chairman's AAA). This project, coordinated by the Commission's Accessibility and Innovation Initiative (A&I Initiative), seeks to recognize innovations in the field of Accessibility and Technology. The Chairman's AAA and the A&I initiative are based on recommendations in the National Broadband Plan, an FCC report to Congress in 2010.

In a rapidly changing world, we must ensure that newly developed technologies continue to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Technological advances, moreover, provide opportunities to bridge current accessibility gaps in a cost-effective and efficient manner. To this end, the A&I Initiative works to foster collaborative problem-solving among industry, consumer, and government stakeholders so that people with disabilities can reap the full benefit of broadband communication technologies. The Chairman's AAA encourages innovation in this field through high-profile recognition.

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