FCC Reform: Let’s Start
With the Enforcement Bureau

Posted by: Joan Marsh on February 8, 2017 at 10:03 am

FCC reform is a topic of much discussion these days.  Indeed, Chairman Pai has already initiated some important process reforms and we anticipate that more are coming.  Clearer and more transparent processes will lead to better regulatory results.

We have also been contemplating reform and will, from time to time, be posting our ideas for regulatory and structural reform at the FCC.  We start with some ideas for reforming process at the Enforcement Bureau – a Bureau that operated for many years with professionalism but whose recent practices have been marked increasingly by bad process, novel and tenuous theories of liability, and Notices of Apparent Liability (NALs) that languish after adoption.

There are a number of areas where we believe the enforcement process can and should be significantly improved:

Rulemaking via Enforcement:  The Bureau recently has used enforcement actions to create substantive requirements that have not previously been articulated or formally adopted by the FCC. Concerns about this practice have been voiced by many in the industry as the Bureau offered strained and novel readings of FCC rules that were often at war with longstanding communications concepts.  Establishing substantive requirements within the context of an enforcement action runs counter to accepted notions of due process and fundamental fairness and should be avoided.

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AT&T Statement on FCC Wireless Bureau’s Decision to Close Sponsored Data Inquiry

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on February 3, 2017 at 2:39 pm

The following statement may be attributed to Joan Marsh, AT&T Senior Vice President of Federal Regulatory:

“Today’s announcement is a win for the millions of consumers who are reaping the benefits of services made available through free data programs. We’re pleased that these innovative products will be able to continue to flourish in the marketplace.”


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TOPICS: Broadband, Consumers
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AT&T Statement on Chairman Pai’s Process Reform Pilot Program

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on February 2, 2017 at 11:33 am

The following statement may be attributed to Joan Marsh, AT&T Senior Vice President of Federal Regulatory:

“Clear and transparent processes lead to better regulatory results. FCC Chairman Pai made clear his commitment to these goals with the voting process reform he enacted at his first Open Meeting.

“Today’s announcement underscores that commitment even further. The pilot program of releasing proposed rules to the public, before they are voted on by the FCC, allows for greater public engagement and ultimately better government actions.  We applaud Chairman Pai’s and his fellow Commissioners’ efforts to improve the agency’s transparency to produce better results.”

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AT&T Statement on Protecting Customers’ Privacy Rights

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on January 27, 2017 at 7:22 pm

Today, in a petition to stay the Federal Communications Commission’s flawed privacy rules, several associations representing U.S. internet service providers (ISPs) released detailed principles, fully supported by AT&T, that reaffirm ISPs’ commitment to protecting customers’ privacy online.

The following statement may be attributed to Joan Marsh, AT&T Senior Vice President of Federal Regulatory:

“AT&T has long been committed to a clear and transparent approach to protecting the privacy rights of our customers. Our approach is consistent with the established framework used by the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates the privacy practices of virtually all other companies operating in the internet ecosystem.

“As we previously noted, the framework adopted last fall by the FCC significantly departed from the FTC regime, most importantly in the treatment of web browsing and app history data. The FCC’s order failed to recognize that consumers want their information protected based on the sensitivity of the information, not the entity collecting it. The FCC’s divergent, and illogical, approach will serve only to confuse consumers, who will continue to see ads based on their web browsing history collected by edge providers even after being told by their service provider that their consent is required for use of such information.

“Any effective regulatory approach to privacy should protect information in a consistent manner based on its sensitivity, create uniform standards for the entire ecosystem and, ultimately, be enforced by a single government agency.”

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How the Public Safety Bureau
Paper Gets Cybersecurity Wrong

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on January 25, 2017 at 2:36 pm

By Chris Boyer, AT&T Assistant Vice President of Global Public Policy 

Last week, the FCC’s Public Safety Bureau issued a white paper on “Cybersecurity Risk Reduction” that raised several issues around the role of Internet service providers (ISPs) in cybersecurity.  While there are too many flaws in the paper to mention them all here, two themes are particularly problematic. First is the assumption that ISPs, like AT&T, don’t have the proper incentives to protect our network and customers from cyberattacks, and that there is some sort of unsubstantiated market failure that needs to be addressed.  Second is the notion that the FCC is in a position to regulate this fast-changing area.

The Bureau makes bald assertions but doesn’t provide any evidence that there are a lack of incentives for carriers to protect their networks from cyberattacks.  Instead it relies on already-debunked assumptions that there is inadequate competition in the broadband marketplace, and then leaps to the conclusion that ISPs therefore won’t invest in protecting their networks and customers from cyberattacks. This is not merely unsupported, it is absurd.

Cybersecurity is fundamental to what we do.  AT&T’s security experts are analyzing the traffic on our network 24/7/365 to understand and identify emerging threats.  We currently have eight global security operation centers and hold 179 security and privacy patents.  AT&T has a fleet of cybersecurity experts, and we are actively training, and re-training, employees to increase this pool of experts. 

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