Last Week in Tech Policy #49: Preemption of Local Authority for Wireless Siting

(By Irena Stevens, PhD Candidate in the Interdisciplinary Telecom Program)

With the goal of promoting the deployment of next-generation wireless facilities, the FCC will vote on April 20th  to continue a rulemaking proposal to preempt local authority in the Right-of-Way (ROW). Wireless carriers are increasingly seeing utility poles in the ROW as an opportunity to expedite and diminish the cost of siting small cells, and say that local governments are creating unnecessary delays and charging excessive fees for pole attachments.

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Last Week in Tech Policy #44: Streaming Killed the Video Star

(by Andrew Manley, Colorado Law 2L)

Recently, more and more Americans are intent on “cutting the cord”—dropping traditional cable and satellite TV services for internet-based streaming services. The growing availability of internet streaming services that provide linear streams of content is making cutting the cord more accessible and more affordable. Services like Sony’s Playstation Vue and Dish Network’s Sling TV offer subscribers streaming video service over the internet that resembles cable service in many ways, and even provide local content streams in certain markets. AT&T and DirecTV have a similar service in the works. However, these services do not fit neatly into the FCC’s regulatory regime for Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs). Three specific cases have exposed the gaps in regulatory coverage for internet protocol based linear video services: Sky Angel, ivi, and Aereo.

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Last Week in Tech Policy #41: FMExit—Norway’s Transition from FM Radio to Digital Audio Broadcasting

(by Zach Goldberg, Colorado Law 2L)

Norway has begun phasing out analog FM radio by shutting down broadcasts in certain parts of the country. The switch began at 11:11 am on January 11 Nordland, a county in northern Norway, and within a year, the Norwegian government plans to transition the entire country to Digital Audio Broadcasting (“DAB”). Under this new regulatory scheme, only 200 or so small local stations will be permitted to broadcast on FM frequencies.

This post explores the past, present, and future of the transition.

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TLPC Releases White Paper on Intellectual Property Issues at the FCC

In this white paper, TLPC student attorneys Colter Donahue and J. Parker Ragland outline steps that the FCC can take to avoid having rulemakings and other policymaking initiatives delayed or negatively affected by intellectual property issues. In recent years, the Commission has faced several situations, including in the context of 9-1-1 services, telecommunications relay services, and set-top boxes, where intellectual property issues have arisen and affected proceedings. The white paper urges the Commission to develop adequate expertise in intellectual property law and to proactively anticipate and address IP issues to avoid these situations in the future.

Piloting Risk-Informed Assessments in the FCC Waiver Applications

Working with Silicon Flatirons Senior Fellow Pierre de Vries, TLPC student attorneys Andrew Manley and Jonathan Bair endorse prior recommendations that the Federal Communications Commission improve its waiver application process for radio operations through the adoption of Risk-Informed Interference Assessment (RIA). The TLPC and de Vries submitted a filing to the Commission suggesting how RIA might be adopted as a tool to assist the Commission in its decision making process. The filing elaborates on the RIA method, offers a checklist by which the Commission can request RIA from parties, and explores three test waivers for the application of RIA.

Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 37: Wireless Emergency Alerts Improved by Federal Communications Commission

(By Eilif Vanderkolk, Colorado Law 2L)

A Speedy Manhunt

In mid-September, Ahmad Khan Rahami allegedly committed terrorist bombings in Manhattan and the Jersey Shore . Rahami was arrested on the Monday following the bombings, shortly after New York officials had issued a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) naming Rahami as the primary suspect. The alert, received by all smartphones located in the five Boroughs that had not opted out, looked like this:

WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9-1-1 if seen.

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Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 36: Another Yahoo! Data Breach? Personal Consumer Information and the U.S. Government’s Intelligence Collection Practices

(by Zachary Goldberg, Colorado Law 2L)

Apparently Yahoo waited two full months to disclose to its customers the largest consumer data breach in history, which Yahoo officials claim went undetected for two full years

On September 22, 2016, Yahoo officials announced that 500 million of its customers’ email accounts were hacked in 2014. The Yahoo security team believes that “state-sponsored hackers” somehow managed to penetrate Yahoo’s system to target its email users’ identifying information, passwords, and security question responses. At this stage in their investigation, Yahoo officials have not indicated precisely when they discovered the breach, and they know neither specific details as to who orchestrated it, nor how they gained access to Yahoo’s email system.

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FCC Releases Public Notice Seeking Comment on Petition for Waiver of E-Rate Rules Filed by BVSD and TLPC

(by Caroline Jones and Max Brennan, TLPC Student Attorneys)

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission released a public notice seeking comment on a petition by the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) and the TLPC to help bridge the homework gap. BVSD seeks to connect the students in Boulder’s low-income housing communities to its high-speed fiber network so they can access the internet after school hours to do their homework.

The petition asks for a waiver certain provisions of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-Rate Program, a federal program that provides subsidies for schools and libraries to obtain telecommunications services. The public notice also invites comment on a petition filed by Microsoft that asks the FCC to permit the use of TV White Spaces technology to extend a school’s  internet access service to students’ homes for educational purposes.

The FCC has designated the period for public comment until November 3rd, 2016, with reply comments due December 5th, 2016. Interested parties may file comments on the FCC’s website.

Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 31: Sponsored and Compelled Hacking, Government Edition

(by Colter Donahue, Colorado Law 3L)

Should government agencies possess, compel, or sponsor hacking and backdoors? A backdoor is a method of bypassing the normal authentication system of a website, messaging service, or other means of electronic communications.

Privacy and encryption advocates point out that the tools created or vulnerabilities exploited by backdoors pose a privacy risk. The vulnerabilities are not not limited to exploit by U.S. agencies like the FBI and NSA; bad actors and other nations can use them too. Hacking tools don’t always stay secret; once exposed, potential damage may be measured on a global scale. But what happens when law enforcement needs access for investigatory purposes? The following post will look at a recent example and the balance of competing interests.

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