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Justice Department Calls Apple’s Refusal to Unlock iPhone a ‘Marketing Strategy’
By ERIC LICHTBLAUFEB. 19, 2016
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department, impatient over its inability to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers, demanded Friday that a judge immediately order Apple to give it the technical tools to get inside the phone.
It said that Apple’s refusal to help unlock the phone for the F.B.I. “appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy,” rather than a legal rationale.
In court documents, prosecutors asked a federal judge to enforce an earlier order requiring Apple to provide the government with a tool to extract the data from a locked iPhone 5c. They are trying to get into the phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the attackers in the San Bernardino rampage, which left 14 dead.
“Rather than assist the effort to fully investigate a deadly terrorist attack by obeying this court’s order of February 16, 2016,” prosecutors wrote in their latest filing, “Apple has responded by publicly repudiating that order.”
The Justice Department’s latest filing escalated what has already been a contentious showdown with Apple and its chief executive, Timothy D. Cook.
On Wednesday, in an 1,100-word letter to his customers, Mr. Cook accused the Justice Department of mounting a “chilling” attack on privacy and Internet security. He said that what prosecutors were demanding amounted to forcing Apple to create a “backdoor” to get around its own security protocols.
But Justice Department prosecutors say that Apple’s technical help is crucial to unlocking Mr. Farook’s iPhone and whatever clues it may hold to his actions and communications both before and immediate after the shootings.
Apple’s lawyers are expected to file by next Friday their formal response to this week’s order from Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym of the Federal District Court for the Central District of California. They are likely to argue that the Justice Department’s demands and the judge’s order go beyond the government’s statutory powers in gathering and searching for evidence under the All Writs Act, a law dating to 1789 used in the current case.
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Published on Feb 18, 2016
Samsung Mobile’s innovation story, unpacked, one box at a time.
From the release of the SH-100 mobile phone in 1988 to the first wristwatch phone. The World’s smallest TV phone to our first MP3 phone. We introduced the S Pen with the Galaxy Note series and paved the way for Phablets. We’ve even climbed mountains to make the first 3G call from Everest. Gone underwater to test the ability of the Galaxy S5 and curved glass to create the first dual edge screen smartphone.
Wherever there’s a barrier, we see it as an invitation to go further, together.
Who knows where progress will take us.
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Facebook Plans To Put Ads In Messenger
February 18, 2016
A leaked document Facebook sent to some of its biggest advertisers reveals that Facebook will launch ads within Messenger in Q2 2016.
The document, obtained by TechCrunch but kept private to protect its verified source, says businesses will be able to send ads as messages to people who previously initiated a chat thread with that company. To prepare, the document recommends that businesses get consumers to start message threads with them now so they’ll be able to send them ads when the feature launches.
The document also notes that Facebook has quietly launched a URL short link fb.com/msg/ that instantly opens a chat thread with a business. Facebook confirmed the existence of the URL short link. That seems to back up the validity of the leaked document.
Regarding Messenger ads specifically, Facebook told me “We don’t comment on rumor or speculation. That said, our aim with Messenger is to create a high quality, engaging experience for 800 million people around the world, and that includes ensuring people do not experience unwanted messages of any type.” That last part sounds like Facebook trying to reassure users that even when there are ads, they won’t be completely unsolicited, and it’s going to be very careful.
Messenger is one of Facebook’s most popular and fastest-growing products, with 800 million monthly active users . Yet the social network has never monetized it directly before.
Thankfully for users, Facebook isn’t going to let brands send ad messages to just anyone or even people who’ve liked their Pages. Only those who have voluntarily chatted with a business can be sent ads. This should somewhat limit the spam potential and annoyance. Right now, almost all messages come from one’s friends, so Facebook will likely try to preserve this high signal-to-noise ratio with limits on advertising.
The news somewhat contradicts what Mark Zuckerberg said to calm users of WhatsApp when Facebook acquired it in early 2014. “I don’t personally think ads are the right way to monetize messaging,” Zuckerberg said on an analyst call. WhatsApp’s CEO Jan Koum went further in a 2012 blog post, stating that “Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought,” but also a waste of engineering resources.
Yet as more content from friends, news publishers, video makers and brands compete for limited space in people’s News Feeds, Facebook has apparently grown willing to let advertisers pay to ping people directly. It’s not the only one opening new direct channels between the two. Twitter today announced new ways for companies to offer customer service through DMs.
Replacing The 1-800 Number
Facebook has been slowly enhancing the ways businesses can privately communicate with people since late 2011 . That’s when it first began letting users send messages to Pages, which were only then allowed to message them back. Originally, this was designed to let businesses move messy or irate customer service conversations off their Wall where other fans could see.
Facebook redoubled its business chat efforts when it hired PayPal President David Marcus to run Messenger in 2014. He came with a vision that Facebook could do a better job of letting companies talk with customers than phones and 1-800 numbers with clumsy touch-tone menus and hold times.
At its F8 conference in March 2015, Facebook announced its Businesses On Messenger program that let e-commerce customers get receipts and chat with customer service reps to change orders. It also allowed businesses to integrate with third-party tools like Zendesk and Conversocial to manage their incoming messages.
Over the following months, Facebook enhanced chat capabilities for businesses by letting them show a big “Send Message” or “Contact Us” button on their Page, create saved replies , show a badge that grades them on how fast they respond , and reply to wall posts with private messages.
Facebook also recently introduced “Click To Message” News Feed ads that let businesses pay to get people to chat with them. Plus, it’s been secretly testing a chat bot platform that allows developers to create e-commerce experiences and personal assistants within Messenger.
Facebook’s Most Forceful Ad Yet
Now Facebook is pushing brands to use these tools to encourage people to message them so they’ll eventually be able to send ads in return. According to the leaked document, it’s also recently released a new tool: the Messenger URL short link. It’s now live for all Pages, through the format fb.com/msg/ and then the Facebook Username of the Page, like fb.com/msg/techcrunch .
Brands can share and promote their link. When tapped by a user, it will start a conversation with the brand either in the Messenger app, or on Facebook’s mobile web or desktop site. Facebook confirmed to me that a few partners include Canadian telecom Rogers are already trying out the fb.com/msg/Rogers shortcode, but Facebook didn’t talk about it.
This short link is essentially the next-generation version of a 1-800 number. Instead of calling 1-800-FLOWERS, you’d be able to just click something like fb.com/msg/flowers and chat at your own pace with a customer service agent. No “Press 1 to hear a list of options.” No “Please hold.”
If businesses achieve a 90 percent response rate to messages within 24 hours over the past week, their Messenger handle will become searchable on Facebook, the document details. This could further stoke in-bound message threads that will eventually become opportunities to show ads.
It’s unclear exactly what businesses will be able to put in Messenger ads, but there are plenty of possibilities. The document says the ads are supposed to carry on the existing discussion users started. The ads could perhaps:
Considering this is the most direct and forceful way for businesses to advertise to or interact with potential customers, Facebook could likely charge steep rates.
There’s always a chance that early tests to Messenger ads receive negative feedback and the plan gets scuttled. The last thing Facebook wants to do is cram spam into Messenger and give people a reason to return to SMS or another chat platform. Expect these ads to be slowly and thoroughly tested before possibly being rolled out.
Right now pretty much every time Messenger buzzes, you know it’s one of your friends and is probably worth looking at. Facebook will have to aggressively thwart spam or misuse of Messenger ads to make money while keeping its chat app at the center of our mobile lives.
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New Emergency Communications System for Los Angeles
Tuesday, February 16, 2016 by Barrett Communications
America's largest emergency data communications system passed its first key test at the 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day in Pasadena, California.
Pat Mallon, executive director of the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) commented: "For the first time local, state and federal emergency services agencies shared voice and data communications directly with each other, and the system functioned flawlessly."
The LA-RICS project is one of five national early deployment efforts in support of the FirstNet Public Safety Broadband Network.
The LA-RICS system brings together multiple vendors who contributed to the successful launch, these included, Motorola Solutions Inc.; BlackHawk Imaging; Sonim Technology; Intrepid Networks; ESChat by SLA Corporation; NVIS Communications; Barrett Communications; Star Solutions International Inc.; Pepro LLC.; Cannon Cameras; Airship; Airwave Communications; and Milestone Video Management Systems.
The fallback network for the LA-RICS system was the tactical communications unit (TCU), which was the combined knowledge of NVIS Communications, Barrett Communications, Star Solutions and Pepro LLC. The TCU provides a fallback network node for short, medium and long-distance communication reach and cross service reach for voice and data, in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
The self-contained TCU is highly mobile and can be set-up and operated by a single person. The EMP hardened shelter encloses the TCU and the unit is self-powered with a four-day capacity diesel generator together with solar panels and backup batteries. The TCU has the short network capacity for 1,000 registered handsets and 100 co-current sessions. The medium and long range network incorporates P25, cellular, UHF, VHF connections and the ability to operate two simultaneous independent HF networks.
"The TCU has been developed as a real solution for back-up voice and data communications. We are seeing more and more government organisation identifying the need for a system that is highly mobile and quick and easy to setup in the back ground to maintain communications in the event of a disaster, it's the safety net to FirstNet," said Mr John Rosica, president of NVIS Communications, the Barrett Communications system integrator in the US.
The TCU will be on display at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) in Las Vegas on 23 and 24 March 2016. Visit stand 549 for further information on this system and its capabilities.
What to Expect at MWC 2016
BY AJAY KUMAR
Mobile World Congress is upon us. Here's what the expect from phone makers at this year's show.
Mobile World Congress has traditionally been associated with cell phones (it's right in the name after all), but over the years we've seen everything from the standard smartphones , tablets , and chips, to fitness trackers action cameras , VR, and home automation hubs. This year we're expecting a good mix of all these categories and a few surprises in between.
The PCMag team will be bringing you the latest from Barcelona right here , as well as on Twitter , Instagram , Vine , Facebook , and more, so stay tuned for the biggest news from the show. If you're also traveling to MWC 2016, check out our travel guide to the show.
But what will we see? Without further ado, here's what we expect from MWC 2016:
Mobile Phones, Tablets, and Wearables
Acer could have one of the most surprising reveals at MWC this year. According to PocketNow , the company may jump into the VR market with its own headset, putting it in competition with Facebook's Oculus, HTC's Vive, and the Samsung Gear VR.
Alcatel's plans have been pretty thoroughly leaked by Evan Blass (more popularly known as @evleaks) on VentureBeat . The company is planning to launch the Idol 4 and 4S as part of its flagship lineup. The Pop 4 and 4s are expected for the midrange line, and the Pixi 4 and 4S (at least the naming scheme is simple) for the budget line. There will also be a slew of Pop 4 and Pixi-branded Android and Windows tablets, with sizes ranging from six to 10 inches.
Blackberry is still in some trouble, despite hopes of a revival with the Android-powered Blackberry Priv slider. However, the company hasn't given up; according to ZDNet we may see another Android-powered device with a physical keyboard, currently codenamed "Vienna." This one won't be a slider—leaked pictures from Crackberry show your standard QWERTY keyboard on the bottom.
Caterpillar has jumped the gun a bit and officially announced the Cat S60 , an ultra-rugged phone with a Flir thermal imagining camera built-in. We'll be sure to check it out on the showroom floor.
Fairphone isn't bringing us anything new, but it will have the modular Fairphone 2 . The device is unique because users can disassemble the phone and easily swap out components, similar to Project Ara. Currently, the device is only being sold and shipped to Europe.
Gionee isn't well known in the U.S., but it is one of China's largest mobile phone manufacturers. The company is confirmed to launch the Gionee Elife S8, a phone with a focus on photography and a pressure-sensitive display (think force touch on the iPhone 6s).
HTC has a lot riding on its new products. With sagging sales and market share, the company hopes to revive its fortunes with the rumored HTC One M10, also codenamed the "Perfume." Surprisingly, current indications are that HTC will not be announcing the M10 at MWC, instead launching in April around the same time the HTC Vive is expected to ship . That makes what HTC will do at MWC a bit of an open question. Greater focus on the HTC Vive and related VR products are a possibility, especially given its new partnership with Valve. Under Armor's fitness tracker may also feature.
Huawei's star is rising ever since the launch of the Nexus 6P and the Honor 5X. At MWC, Huawei has scheduled a press event where it's likely to launch Matebook , a Microsoft Surface-style device with a detachable keyboard and stylus. Apparently this will be a dual-boot Android and Windows device.
HP isn't a company known for its smartphones, but that could change this year. According to Trusted Reviews , HP could be launching a Windows 10 phablet phone called the "HP Falcon." It's supposed to have hardware that will put it on par with all the Android flagships entering the market (Snapdragon 820, 3GB Ram, quad-HD display).
Jolla will be at MWC 2016, but with the scrapping of the Sailfish tablet, the focus will now be on the Intex Aqua Fish , a Sailfish OS phone.
LG is going to be one of the biggest launches at MWC with the LG G5, the flagship successor to the LG G4. The device has been all but revealed— by LG itself . Look for a metal build that retains a removable battery, an always-on display, and the "Magic Slot " for accessories. According to VentureBeat , this slot will include a VR camera, a robot, a photography add-on, and a speaker add-on. Aside from the G5 and its accessories, the company has confirmed new devices for the midrange LG X lineup.
Lenovo/Motorola has already teased the Lenovo Lemon 3, a metal-clad smartphone already available in China at a remarkably affordable price ($100). It's likely we'll see a wider global launch for MWC.
Microsoft will have a presence at MWC, as it usually does, but we aren't expecting to see anything new — continued rumors of the mythical Surface Phone notwithstanding. There may be an opportunity to demo HoloLens and a chance of a wearable product and some software related announcement.
Oppo has confirmed a "Wow the World," press event, which is likely to focus on camera and battery life, according to Android Authority . There aren't many details about it, but speculation suggests that it may be related to VOOC Flash Charge and optical zoom accessories.
Samsung is always one of the top manufacturers at MWC, and this year is no exception. We are expecting to see the flagship Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, which will be the successors to the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. The latest leaks indicate that we are going to see a metal-and-glass build, the latest Qualcomm or Exynos processor, an always-on display, and waterproofing. There are some mixed rumors about the presence of USB Type-C, but we expect to see a bigger battery on both devices. Aside from that, Samsung been emphasized VR in its teaser, so something related to Gear VR is a good bet.
Sony is holding a press conference at MWC, which may feature the Sony Xperia Z6 and a Z5 Tablet. According to AndroidPit, Sony traditionally releases a flagship every six months, so the timing is right for an MWC reveal.
Xiaomi is going to launch the Xiaomi Mi 5 with a Snapdragon 820 processor, a fact that was confirmed by Hugo Barra , Xiaomi Global VP. There has been no shortage of leaks and sneak peeks at the upcoming flagship, showing camera samples and screenshots.
ZTE is holding an event at MWC for 5G-ready products , including phones, tablets, and smart devices. We expect to see new devices in the Axon line.
Chips, OS, and Carriers
Cyanogen may be planning to announce Cyanogen OS to compete with iOS and Android. The company has never been shy about taking on the big boys and we might see what it has to offer now.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 will dominate MWC 2016. The processor is expected to power the LG G5, Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, Mi 5, Xperia Z6, HTC One M10, and HP Falcon. Even if all those devices don't launch at MWC, it seems clear that Qualcomm is rebounding from the Snapdragon 810 overheating fiasco, which saw Samsung ditch the chipset in favor of its in-house Exynos processor. Aside from that, look for a range of demos for 5G and Wi-Fi.
Virtual Reality will have a big presence at MWC 2016. With Facebook's Oculus, the HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, Sony PlayStation VR, Microsoft HoloLens, and rumored LG and Acer VR offerings, the market is getting crowded. That's a good thing, and this may be the year we really see a leap forward in consumer-ready VR.
Can A 1789 Law Apply To An iPhone?
Updated February 19, 20169:59 AM ET
A U.S. magistrate judge has ordered Apple to help the FBI break into an iPhone used by one of the two shooters in the San Bernardino attack in December.
When a federal judge ordered Apple earlier this week to unlock a phone used by one of the assailants in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., she cited a law from 1789. It could make you wonder if the nation's legal system is having a hard time keeping up with the fast pace of technological change. So, I asked a few legal experts if our old laws can apply to this particular situation.
The iPhone in question was used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who along with his wife was allegedly motivated by violent Islamist ideology to kill 14 of his co-workers. Farook's employer owned the phone, but Farook created the password. The iPhone is designed so that after 10 failed attempts to log on, it erases the personal information on it.
The Justice Department got a court order telling Apple it must create special software to unlock the phone. Apple has refused. The company claims that creating such software would make all phones less secure.
I asked Adam Scott Wandt, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice , if he could think of another case like this one. His first response: "Give me one second to think."
It took more than a second. But Wandt finally came up with the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999 — also known as the E911 Act. Its purpose, according to Wandt: "To force all cellular communication providers to at all times be able to geo-locate their cellphones."
Wandt admits it's not a perfect analogy. Locating a phone isn't the same thing as gaining access to everything on it.
Wandt says in Riley v. California , decided in 2014, the Supreme Court declared that today's mobile phones are something special — "that your average phone today has so much information in it, such a digest and diary of somebody's life, that it needs more protection than it had in the past."
Let's add another element. Apple claims that if it creates a software key that can break into Farook's phone, the key could eventually find its way into the hands of hackers. It's just too hard to protect.
Aaron Wright, a professor at Yeshiva University's Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law , offered this comparison: "One analogy that I've heard is, it's like asking a door-maker to create doors that only let the government in. And in the process, that just creates risks that may enable other people to follow them through that door."
Of course, that just wouldn't happen in the physical world. Even after the government gets a warrant to search your home, there is no special universal key. If you don't open the door, police physically break it down.
But trying to write a law specific to a new technology can be very hard, says Irina Raicu, director of the Internet Ethics Program at Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics . Take the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986.
"They assumed that people would not store emails and other things for more than six months," Raicu says. "And they didn't contemplate the fact that storage was going to become so cheap that we all have tons of old emails in our accounts."
Raicu thinks we may be better off adapting old laws to the new world. She thinks it's a good thing that the federal court in California used the principles set out in 1789 to order Apple to unlock the phone.
That law, the All Writs Act, is all of two sentences in length. It gives judges the authority to issue any order necessary — within the law — to further litigation before the court. The relative clause says:
"The law actually seems to be keeping up with technology by being so broad that we're just reinterpreting it all the time," says Raicu.
In his impassioned explanation on Apple's website for refusing the government's order, CEO Tim Cook criticized the use of this old law, rather than, as Cook put it, "asking for legislative action through Congress."
But, as Raicu sees it, Cook may want to be careful what he asks for.
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REMINDER: Lifeline Recordkeeping Requirements Effective TODAY
On February 17, the FCC published notice that its Lifeline recordkeeping rules will go into effect today, having been approved by the Office of Management and Budget on January 5. This includes the document retention requirement and the use a uniform snapshot date to request reimbursement for the provision of Lifeline support.
“First Confidential Status Letters” Sent to Broadcasters Seeking to Participate in Incentive Auction
The Broadcast Incentive Auction application process is underway and the FCC has this week begun sending confidential application status letters to broadcasters who may be interested in returning all or a portion of their broadcast spectrum to the Commission via the “reverse auction.” Participating broadcasters will be able to share in a portion of auction proceeds when the broadcast band is repacked and paired 600 MHz band Partial Economic Area (PEA) licenses are made available for bidding by wireless service providers. A resubmission window for addressing defects in reverse auction applications was opened on February 16, 2016 and will close at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time on February 26, 2016.
At the same time, the deadline for wireless service providers to file applications to participate in the forward auction of 600 MHz licenses passed last Wednesday (February 10th). All applicants in the Incentive Auction (including an applicant’s officers and directors and investors) are reminded that they are subject to strict rules prohibiting certain communications about their participation in the auction as well as plans for the post-auction market. The prohibition extends from the initial auction application deadline until the results of the Incentive Auction are announced by public notice.
If a reverse auction application is deemed incomplete after the resubmission deadline has passed, the broadcast applicant will not be permitted to make an initial commitment with respect to any of its selected station(s).
As the second step for broadcasters to qualify to bid in the clock rounds of the reverse auction, an applicant that has submitted a timely and complete application must commit, at the opening price, to a preferred relinquishment option for each station for which it intends to bid in the reverse auction prior to 6:00 p.m. ET on March 29, 2016. After running the initial broadcaster commitments through software to “repack” the broadcast band, the Commission will come up with an initial clearing target and a 600 MHz band plan that will be used for PEA licensing in the forward auction. The FCC expects this process will take three to four weeks and upfront payments from forward auction bidders will be due several weeks later, by a date to be announced in a future FCC Public Notice.
ACA, WISPA Push for Easing Letter of Credit Requirements for CAF Phase II
Last week, the American Cable Association and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association met with the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau to review their proposal to adopt alternative criteria by which a bank would be deemed eligible to issue an acceptable Letter of Credit (“LoC”) for the Connect America Fund Phase II competitive bidding process. Specifically, ACA and WISPA proposed an alternative by which a bank would be eligible to issue an acceptable LoC if it is FDIC-insured and meets the “Well-Capitalized” threshold pursuant to the Basel III Capital Adequacy Standards as adopted by federal banking regulatory agencies.
The FCC’s current LoC requirements, which include top-100 bank status, FDIC-insured, and investment-grade credit rating, have proven cumbersome for rural carriers in the past. According to ACA and WISPA, their proposal would “expand the pool of banks eligible to issue a LoC from 63 to 6,195 and provide more reliable and verifiable indicators of bank viability.”
Carriers interested in discussing LoC requirements with the FCC should contact the firm for more information.
Congress Passes Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act
Earlier this week, the Senate made permanent the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which bans state and local government from taxing Internet access service. The bill not only removed the end date of the existing Internet Tax Freedom Act, but added an end date of June 30, 2020 for the exemption for those states that were already collecting state and local taxes on internet access when the original bill was passed. Currently, only Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin still collect taxes for online services.
The bill had been extended approximately half a dozen times since its original adoption in 1998, and has become permanent through language that was tacked on to another bill – the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 – that was deemed likely to pass.
It is important to note that this does not resolve the hotly contested issue of taxes for online purchases.
FCC Commissioner O’Rielly said, “This is great news for American Internet consumers. By preventing state and local taxes on Internet access and double taxation, it marks a firm path for future Internet policies.”
Commissioner Pai said, “This confirms a national consensus that state and local taxes on Internet access should be taken off the table once and for all. These taxes would make (and in some places already have made) broadband more expensive, reducing consumers’ ability and willingness to get online. This, in turn, would reduce private sector investment in deploying broadband, especially in rural areas, and inhibit entrepreneurship.”
The bill has been sent on to President Obama for final approval.
Law & Regulation
Senator Leahy Urges USDA to Increase Broadband Speed Requirements
On February 10, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) sent a letter to Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, asking him to take steps to raise the speed requirements for the Farm Bill’s broadband loan program. According to Senator Leahy, the Department of Agriculture has the authority to review and raise the minimum speed standard at least once every two years, and urges the Department to do so. Although the Senator does not propose a specific new speed, he provides as examples recommendations by Comcast of 16 Mbps down for start-up businesses and 25 Mbps down for home-based and small business use, or households with 2 to 3 connected devices.
Currently, the bare minimum broadband speed for the Farm Bill’s program is 4/1, although final awards are able to have higher requirements.
FCC Plans $29.6 Million Fine for “Egregious Treatment of Customers”
On February 12, the FCC issued a press release announcing a proposed fine of $29,600,000 against OneLink Communications, Inc., TeleDias Communications, Inc., TeleUno, Inc., and Cytel, Inc., for “a variety of apparent fraudulent, deceptive, and manipulative practices targeting consumers with Hispanic surnames.” Specifically, the FCC asserts that the long distance carriers “slammed” consumers by switching their long distance carriers without authorization and “crammed” unauthorized charges onto consumers’ bills. In addition, it is alleged the companies, which operate as a single enterprise, fabricated audio recordings that they then submitted to the FCC as “proof” the consumers authorized these changes and charges.
According to the press release, Over 140 consumers filed complaints with the FCC after discovering that the companies allegedly switched their long distance carriers and charged them for new services without their authorization. Some consumers alleged that the companies’ telemarketers pretended to be from the post office calling about a nonexistent package delivery to obtain information to create fake consumer authorization recordings. In other cases, it appears the companies impersonated individuals in the authorization recordings. The companies then allegedly provided the fake authorizations to the FCC in response to its investigation into the consumer complaints.
Even after consumers repeatedly contacted the companies about the alleged unauthorized charges and carrier switches, the companies purportedly refused to provide refunds until consumers filed complaints with the FCC, Better Business Bureau, or state regulators.
FCC Proposes to Remove Nondiscrimination Requirement on US-Cuba Route
On February 12, the FCC issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on removing certain nondiscrimination requirements and asking whether removal would lead to more direct agreements between U.S. carriers and the state-owned telecommunications operator, ETECSA, and encourage competition on the U.S.-Cuba route. Currently, the FCC’s rules require all facilities-based U.S. carriers providing the same or similar services on the U.S.-Cuba route to operate under identical rate terms and conditions. In 2012, the Commission removed nondiscrimination requirements for U.S. carriers operating between the United States and other countries, leaving Cuba as the only country to which the nondiscrimination requirements still apply.
According to the FCC, if the proposal is adopted, U.S. carriers would have more flexibility to negotiate rates with the state-owned telecommunications operator, ETECSA, and to respond to market forces.
February 18 Open Meeting Agenda
On February 18, the FCC will hold its monthly Open Meeting, scheduled to commence at 10:30 a.m. The agenda for the Open Meeting is as follows:
Apple Ordered to Unlock San Bernadino Shooter’s Phone
On February 16, the Associated Press reported that a federal magistrate judge in California ordered iPhone maker Apple to help the FBI break into the cell phone of one of the shooters involved in the San Bernadino attack of December 2, 2015, in which Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people in a Dec. 2 shooting at a holiday luncheon for Farook's co-workers. Specifically, the ruling by Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym requires Apple to supply highly specialized software the FBI can load onto the phone to disable the security encryption feature that erases data after too many unsuccessful unlocking attempts.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook says the company will fight the order, calling it “an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers” in an open letter published today. He continues:
A copy of the letter can be found here .
Workshop and Tech Demo Announced on Spectrum Frontiers, Developments in mmWave Bands
On February 11, the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, and the International Bureau announced that they will host a workshop “exploring the concepts raised in the Commission’s Spectrum Frontiers NPRM and the state of technological developments in the millimeter wave (mmW) bands.” In parallel to the workshop, OET, WTB, and IB will also be hosting equipment demonstrations illustrating some of the technologies enabling advanced wireless services in the mmW bands.
The workshop will include perspectives from equipment manufacturers, licensees, wireless service providers, satellite service providers, and various other interested parties. A detailed agenda will be released prior to the workshop, which will be held on Thursday, March 10, 2016, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM in the Commission Meeting Room at FCC Headquarters in Washington, DC., and will be webcast live at www.fcc.gov/live .
MARCH 1: COPYRIGHT STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT FORM FOR CABLE COMPANIES. This form, plus royalty payment for the second half of calendar year 2015, is due March 1. The form covers the period July 1 to December 31, 2015, and is due to be mailed directly to cable TV operators by the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office. If you do not receive the form, please contact Gerry Duffy.
MARCH 1: CPNI ANNUAL CERTIFICATION. Carriers should modify (as necessary) and complete their “Annual Certification of CPNI Compliance” for 2016. The certification must be filed with the FCC by March 1. Note that the annual certification should include the following three required Exhibits: (a) a detailed Statement Explaining How the Company’s Operating Procedures Ensure Compliance with the FCC’S CPNI Rules to reflect the Company’s policies and information; (b) a Statement of Actions Taken against Data Brokers; and (c) a Summary of Customer Complaints Regarding Unauthorized Release of CPNI. A company officer with personal knowledge that the company has established operating procedures adequate to ensure compliance with the rules must execute the Certification, place a copy of the Certification and accompanying Exhibits in the Company’s CPNI Compliance Records, and file the certification with the FCC in the correct fashion. Our clients can forward the original to BloostonLaw in time for the firm to make the filing with the FCC by March 1, if desired. BloostonLaw is prepared to help our clients meet this requirement, which we expect will be strictly enforced, by assisting with preparation of their certification filing; reviewing the filing to make sure that the required showings are made; filing the certification with the FCC, and obtaining a proof-of-filing copy for your records. Clients interested in obtaining BloostonLaw's CPNI compliance manual should contact Gerry Duffy (202-828-5528) or Mary Sisak (202-828-5554). Note: If you file the CPNI certification, you must also file the FCC Form 499-A Telecom Reporting Worksheet by April 1.
MARCH 1: FCC FORM 477, LOCAL COMPETITION & BROADBAND REPORTING FORM. This annual form is due March 1 and September 1 annually. The FCC requires facilities-based wired, terrestrial fixed wireless, and satellite broadband service providers to report on FCC Form 477 the number of broadband subscribers they have in each census tract they serve. The Census Bureau changed the boundaries of some census tracts as part of the 2010 Census.
Specifically, three types of entities must file this form:
MARCH 31: INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT CAPACITY REPORT. No later than March 31, all U.S. international carriers that owned or leased bare capacity on a submarine cable between the United States and any foreign point on December 31, 2015 and any person or entity that held a submarine cable landing license on December 31, 2015 must file a Circuit Capacity Report to provide information about the submarine cable capacity it holds. Additionally, cable landing licensees must file information on the Circuit Capacity Report about the amount of available and planned capacity on the submarine cable for which they have a license. Any U.S. International Carrier that owned or leased bare capacity on a terrestrial or satellite facility as of December 31, 2015 must file a Circuit Capacity Report showing its active common carrier circuits for the provision of service to an end-user or resale carrier, including active circuits used by itself or its affiliates. Any satellite licensee that is not a U.S. International Carrier and that owns circuits between the United States and any foreign point as of December 31, 2015 of the reporting period must file a Circuit Capacity Report showing its active circuits sold or leased to any customer, including itself or its affiliates, other than a carrier authorized by the FCC to provide U.S. international common carrier services.
APRIL 1: FCC FORM 499-A, TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTING WORKSHEET. This form must be filed by all contributors to the Universal Service Fund (USF) sup-port mechanisms, the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, the cost recovery mechanism for the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), and the shared costs of local number portability (LNP). Contributors include every telecommunications carrier that provides interstate, intrastate, and international telecommunications, and certain other entities that provide interstate telecommunications for a fee. Even common carriers that qualify for the de minimis exemption must file Form 499-A. Entities whose universal service contributions will be less than $10,000 qualify for the de minimis exemption. De minimis entities do not have to file the quarterly report (FCC Form 499-Q), which was due February 1, and will again be due May 1. Form 499-Q relates to universal and LNP mechanisms. Form 499-A relates to all of these mechanisms and, hence, applies to all providers of interstate, intrastate, and international telecommunications services. Form 499-A contains revenue information for January 1 through December 31 of the prior calendar year. And Form 499-Q contains revenue information from the prior quarter plus projections for the next quarter. (Note: the revised 499-A and 499-Q forms are now available.) Block 2-B of the Form 499-A requires each carrier to designate an agent in the District of Columbia upon whom all notices, process, orders, and decisions by the FCC may be served on behalf of that carrier in proceedings before the FCC. Carriers receiving this newsletter may specify our law firm as their D.C. agent for service of process using the information in our masthead. There is no charge for this service.
APRIL 1: ANNUAL ACCESS TO ADVANCED SERVICES CERTIFICATION. All providers of telecommunications services and telecommunications carriers subject to Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act are required to file with the FCC an annual certification that (1) states the company has procedures in place to meet the recordkeeping requirements of Part 14 of the Rules; (2) states that the company has in fact kept records for the previous calendar year; (3) contains contact information for the individual or individuals handling customer complaints under Part 14; (4) contains contact information for the company’s designated agent; and (5) is supported by an affidavit or declaration under penalty of perjury signed by an officer of the company.
|This newsletter is not intended to provide legal advice. Those interested in more information should contact the firm. For additional information, please contact Hal Mordkofsky at 202-828-5520 or firstname.lastname@example.org .|
|Friends & Colleagues|
Wireless Network Planners
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|THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK|
“There should be an honest attempt at the reconciliation of differences before resorting to combat.”
|PHOTO OF THE WEEK|
“La Habana, Cuba”
|Source:||NBC News||YAMIL LAGE / AFP - Getty Images|
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