DOJ White Paper Answers Questions about the Scope and Applicability of the CLOUD Act

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Last year Congress enacted the CLOUD Act (the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act) to clarify the means for foreign legal authorities to access electronic information held by U.S.-based global providers. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), in April 2019, issued a White Paper entitled “Promoting Public Safety, Privacy, and the Rule of Law Around the World: The Purpose and Impact of the CLOUD Act.” This White Paper lays out the policy and legal reasons for enactment of the CLOUD Act, and explains how the CLOUD Act overlays and interacts with existing laws and established inter-governmental practices.

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FTC: “Illegal Robocallers, You’re Out”

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In an active week of FTC announcements, the agency on March 26, 2019, announced four major settlements with entities that were responsible for billions of illegal robocalls made to consumers nationwide. The entities targeted by the agency initiated illegal robocalls across a number of industries – they pitched auto warranties, debt-relief services, home security systems, fake charities, and Google search results services. These settlements resolved FTC allegations that the defendants had violated the FTC Act and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule.

In Veterans of America, the FTC’s complaint against Travis Deloy Peterson alleged that he “created and used a series of corporate entities and fictitious business names that sound like veterans’ charities to operate a telemarketing scheme that used robocalls to trick generous Americans into giving their vehicles or other valuable property to him” since at least 2012. The settlement includes a monetary judgment of $541,032.10 and would permanently ban defendant Peterson or his employees or contractors from soliciting charitable contributions, making misrepresentation in advertising or promoting any good or service, initiating robocalls, and engaging in deceptive and abusive telemarketing.

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FTC Seeks Information from Platform-Based ISPs about Their Privacy Practices

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Following congressional hearings last month on potential federal data privacy legislation − Hearing on Policy Principles for a Federal Data Privacy Framework in the United States before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Hearing on Improving Data Security at Consumer Reporting Agencies before the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy − the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on March 26, 2019, announced the initiation of a study concerning the privacy policies, procedures, and practices of seven internet service providers (ISPs). The FTC has used this process in other industries or areas of focus to gather information that it may later share in a public report.

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NIST Privacy Framework Takes Shape

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As previously reported, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is developing a voluntary Privacy Framework in collaboration with private- and public-sector stakeholders. The goal is to help organizations better identify, assess, manage, and communicate their privacy risks. Other benefits anticipated from this project are fostering the growth of innovative approaches to protecting individual privacy and creating greater trust in products and services that may use the Framework once it is established.

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FCC Adopts Order Creating a Centralized Reassigned Number Database, Which Could Address Some Robocall Concerns

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After several requests for comment, the FCC has approved its earlier proposal to create a centralized, comprehensive reassigned telephone numbers database, a resource which many have felt has been lacking. Ideally, the proposed database will be an effective tool to assist businesses in identifying numbers that have been recycled, thus helping to cut down on unwanted or mistaken phone calls received by consumers. This blog outlines the framework of the FCC’s new  database, including access, administration, types of information collected, usage, and potential costs and benefits.  

One of the most persistent complaints by consumers to the FCC is about receiving uninvited “robocalls.”  Generally speaking, these may be phone calls or texts to wireless phones or home phones that may be telemarketing or informational calls from health providers, financial services providers, schools or retailers.  The FCC is the federal agency responsible for implementation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which contains opt in consent requirements for telemarketing and some types of informational calls which are heightened if the call is made to a wireless phone.  Even when consumers have provided the requisite consent to receive “robocalls” calls from businesses it is not uncommon for consumers to terminate phone service, moving to a new service provider and getting a new phone number.

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FCC Announces its Agenda and Speakers for its AI and Machine Learning Forum

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On November 7, the FCCin a relatively terse Public Noticeannounced that it would hold a Forum at its headquarters on November 30 designed to focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning by having experts in AI and machine learning discuss the future of these technologies and their implications for the communications marketplace.

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