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Global Media and Communications Watch

The International Legal Blog for the Tech, Media and Telecoms Industry

Posted in Policy & Regulation, Telecoms & Broadband Michele FarquharArpan Sura

Kari’s Law Compliance Obligations Begin February 16, 2020

Kari’s Law, signed into law on February 16, 2018, requires organizations that use multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) to provide callers with the ability to dial 911 directly from any telephone in the system. MLTS are often used in hotels, office buildings, corporate and educational campuses, and other enterprises. As a result, a wide variety of organizations will be impacted by Kari’s Law and must comply with its requirements.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently published its implementing regulations. The regulations went into effect on January 6, 2020, with a compliance date of February 16, 2020Continue Reading

Posted in Internet David TaylorJane Seager

Czechs say no to Internationalised Domain Names, again

CZ.NIC, the Registry for the .CZ country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD), recently published the results of a survey that indicate that Czechs have once again rejected the possibility of registering Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) under .CZ.

IDNs are domain names that contain at least one non-ASCII character – for example, a character with diacritics like é, ü, ñ, or a Chinese character like 飛.  Registering IDNs is already possible in many ccTLDs such as Belgium (.BE), Brazil (.BR), China (.CN), Hong Kong (.HK), France (.FR), Germany (.DE), Greece (.GR), Hungary (.HU), Spain (.ES) or Tuvalu (.tv), and in most generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs).

According to the published survey results, 88% of corporate respondents and 64% of ordinary Internet users were either strongly opposed, or would rather that IDNs under .CZ not be introduced. The survey was undertaken during the autumn of 2019 and 1,015 representatives of organisations and 1,206 individual Internet users took part.

The above figures represent a 2% increase in resistance to IDNs among corporate respondents and a 9% increase among ordinary Internet users when compared to the last survey in 2016.  Moreover, this is the seventh time that CZ.NIC has undertaken a survey concerning the introduction of IDNs under .CZ and the seventh time that those surveyed have expressed their opposition to their introduction.

The CEO of CZ.NIC, Ondřej Filip, has stated in connection with the latest survey that:

“The repeated rejection of IDN in the .CZ domain zone is not surprising. Among other things, the survey also showed that for Internet users, IDN is not a desirable feature or a priority. The respondents stated that topics of Internet security, online protection or the availability of a quality Internet connection were more important to them.”

According to CZ.NIC, users who participated in the survey view the current situation with .CZ as satisfactory and, in turn, view the use of diacritics as confusing and unnecessarily complicated for foreign users.

Only time will tell whether Czechs will change their views in future with regard to registering IDNs under .CZ, but on the basis of the current trend, that does not look likely.

Authored by Anchovy News Team

Posted in Intellectual Property, Technology

Tech Tax – Looking Forward to 2020

Following-up from our previous blogs on Tech Tax, we thought it would be useful to take a whirlwind tour of what to expect in tax and transfer pricing related topics in 2020. But for those that are curious, why are such seemingly dry topics so relevant to tech companies? It’s because their dynamism and continual state of change almost inevitably have tax consequences, or attract attention from tax authorities. It is also relevant because of the importance of IP to their business models and value creation, the inexorable growth of the digital economy, and simply, because it’s where the money is.

Digital Services Tax (DST)
Reform of International Tax (OECD’s Pillar 1 & 2)
Transfer Pricing (General/Non-Financial Transactions)
State Aid
Transfer Pricing and Financial Transactions
Disclosure – DAC 6
Anti-Avoidance – EU Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive II

The key messages are that in this area, tech companies need to stay vigilant, keep up-to-speed with what is happening, and strategise accordingly. They also need to get used to a world which is steadily becoming more transparent, and where the old ways of doing things often no longer work. It’s a time of change.

Digital Services Taxes (DST)

Despite U.S. threats to impose punitive tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of French goods in response to the country’s introduction of a digital services tax effective 1 January 2019, a number of other countries introduced their own versions of the tax on 1 January this year. These include Italy and Austria, whilst the UK (see here for an article on legal issues  concerning the UK’s measure) and Turkey are to follow suit on 1 April. A host of other countries have either done the same, are in the process of doing so (e.g. Spain and the Czech Republic), or are considering it. Norway, for instance, has indicated that it will be prepared to introduce a similar unilateral measure if an international consensus is not reached at the OECD on global reforms to the international tax system. It’s also not inconceivable that the EU may try again in such circumstances. U.S. retaliation against France using tariffs is still possible (which is ironic given that the U.S. State of Maryland has proposed its own DST), even though the two appear for the time being to have stepped-back from a full-blown dispute (noting nonetheless that the new EU Commissioner for Trade has stated that the EU will stand firmly behind France in any dispute over its DST and retaliatory tariffs). The UK appears to be standing firm, at least for now, but given all the political maneuvering, a lot can be expected to happen on this topic within the next 12 months.

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Posted in Policy & Regulation, Telecoms & Broadband Mark BrennanArpan Sura

Eleventh Cir. Rejects Broad Reading of “Autodialer”

On January 27, 2020, an Eleventh Circuit panel released a landmark ruling in Glasser v. Hilton Grand Vacations Company, LLC. The key issue in the case was how to interpret ambiguous language in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s (TCPA) definition of “automatic telephone dialing system” (ATDS or autodialer). In recent years, imprecise statutory phrasing and the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) liberal reading of the legislative history empowered plaintiffs to assert TCPA claims based on a wide array of calling systems. The Eleventh Circuit panel’s decision in Glasser rejects that trend, joins the D.C. Circuit in adopting a much narrower view of the TCPA’s scope, and establishes a clear circuit split with the Ninth Circuit. Continue Reading

Posted in Cybersecurity, Internet, Policy & Regulation, Technology

UK Government set to move forwards with regulation on consumer IoT device security

UK Government set to move forwards with regulation on consumer IoT device security

The UK Government has just announced that it intends to draw up legislation aimed at ensuring that all consumer smart devices sold in the UK adhere to rigorous security requirements for the Internet of Things (“IoT“).

Over the last couple of years, the Government has been considering the need to develop a robust regulatory framework governing the cybersecurity of consumer IoT devices, to ensure that these devices are sufficiently secure from cyber-threats.

What will the new legislation look like? 

The Government has indicated that the new legislation will focus on three key security requirements for the manufacture and sale of IoT devices:

  1. All consumer IoT device passwords must be unique and not resettable to any universal factory setting.
  2. Manufacturers of consumer IoT devices must provide a public point of contact so that anyone can report a flaw or vulnerability, and these reports are to be acted on in a timely manner.
  3. Manufacturers of consumer IoT devices must explicitly state the minimum length of time for which devices will receive security updates at the point of sale (both online and in stores).

What does this mean for businesses?

  • The Government aims to deliver the legislation “as soon as possible” though it is currently unclear how this legislation will reflect the three key security requirements.
  • It is likely to come as a relief that the Government has decided against launching a security labelling scheme at this time, recognising the potential disruption to businesses caused by affixing a label to physical products.
  • The Government plans to conduct further stakeholder engagement in order to refine its regulatory proposals, and determine the most appropriate way for businesses to communicate important security information to consumers.

What next?

The Government has promised a “staged approach” to regulation, which will include:

  • Inviting further stakeholder feedback to develop the regulatory proposals.
  • Providing businesses with sufficient time to implement the proposals effectively and sustainably.
  • Publishing a final stage regulatory impact assessment later in 2020, which we expect will shed further light on the regulatory proposals.

We are monitoring relevant updates in this area and encourage manufacturers to keep an eye on further invitations from the Government for stakeholder engagement, as their proposals develop.

You can find further information on the Government’s proposals here.

We regularly work with companies in preparing submissions to government on proposed legislation and regulation. Get in touch with our leading Global Products Law practice to hear how we can support you in making sure your voice is heard.

You can also keep up with news from our Global Products Law team by signing up for our quarterly publication, International Products Law Review – please contact Samantha Tharle.

The authors are part of a leading and internationally acclaimed network within Hogan Lovells that can support you and your products anywhere in the world. The Hogan Lovells Global Products Law practice is internationally renowned for their work in product liability, litigation, safety and compliance for universally recognised brands in every industry sector.

Posted in Copyright, Intellectual Property

Tom Kabinet: CJEU rules resale of e-books requires permission of copyright holder

The CJEU in its Tom Kabinet judgment has ruled that the supply of e-books qualifies as “an act of communication to the public” under the InfoSoc Directive instead of “a distribution to the public” as is the case with physical books. It follows that copyright  in e-books cannot be exhausted. This means that the resale of e-books requires the authorization of the copyright holders or else violates the author’s or publisher’s copyrights. The same reasoning is expected to apply to all digital formats of copyright protected works covered under the InfoSoc Directive, including audiobooks, music and also video games. This notably differs from the approach to the resale of software, which was deemed permitted under the Software Directive, in the CJEU’s UsedSoft judgment.

In its judgment of 19 December 2019 in Tom Kabinet (C-263/18), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that the supply by downloading, for permanent use, of an e-book is not covered by the right of “distribution to the public”, but is covered by the right of “communication to the public”. This means there is no exhaustion of rights and thus the second-hand trade of e-books is not permitted without the authorization of copyright holders. This judgment provides guidance on copyright in a digital environment. Continue Reading

Posted in Policy & Regulation Eduardo Ustaran

AG Says ePrivacy Applies to Government Access to Communications Data

On  January 15, the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) Advocate General (AG) Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona delivered his Opinion on four references for preliminary rulings on the topic of retention of and access to communications data.

Of the four references, two originated from France, one from Belgium, and one from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) in the United Kingdom. The latter arose from a challenge by Privacy International to the UK Security and Intelligence Agencies’ (SIAs) powers under the Telecommunications Act 2014 and the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014. SIAs have the power to compel providers of electronic communications services, such as internet service providers, to retain and hand over bulk communications data. Communications data does not include the content of communications but does reveal traffic and location data, as well as information on users’ social, business and financial activities, communications, and travel.

The IPT found as a matter of fact, and specified in its reference for a preliminary ruling, that these powers are “essential to the protection of the national security of the United Kingdom.” The questions referred to the CJEU concerned:

  1. the applicability of the ePrivacy Directive (ePD) in the context of the use of these powers; and
  2. whether the requirements specified in the previous CJEU decision Tele2 Sverige/Watson also applied.

The IPT went so far as to specify that the imposition of such requirements would “critically impede” the SIAs’ bulk acquisition and automated processing techniques.

Continue Reading

Posted in Technology, Telecoms & Broadband Trey Hanbury

What I’m Watching For at #CES2020

I’m headed to #CES2020 this week with a backup battery, comfortable shoes, and a lot of questions. After eyeing the new televisions and fancy cars, I intend to focus on learning more about the following areas:

5G. Each of the major wireless operators has their own blend of frequencies and their own conception of what will move consumers to take advantage of an immensely more capable and robust wireless 5G NR technology platform. How are the carriers using their preexisting technology choices and spectrum mixes to capture market share and defend against gains from insurgents, such as the cable companies and DISH? And for that matter, how do the cable companies intend to use new spectrum-acquisition models, such as the upcoming CBRS auction, to retain subscribers in an era of over-the-top video consumption and intensified head-to-head competition with wireless operators?

IoT.  Most 5G talk focuses on throughput, but mass connectivity may prove more important in the long run.  With nearly anything with electrical current (and plenty of things without it) gaining access to the web, the need to connect hundreds of thousands or millions of devices within a small geographic area will tax wireless infrastructure and the back office like never before. How are carriers and vendors gearing up for this new service-delivery architecture?

AI. Technology works best when it is neither seen, nor heard, but just happens. And consumers, me included, only grow more demanding with time. As the comedian Jim Gaffigan quipped: “What do you mean I actually have to point the remote control?  What is this?  The 50s?  Can’t I just look at the TV and it’ll know what I want to watch?”  Consumer expectations only increase with technology. What progress have vendors made in breaking down the barriers to cross-platform connectivity so all of our smart devices and services can talk to – and interact with – one another?

Robotics.  The promise of a robotic butler or washing machine or garbage-taker-outer always seems just around the corner. The combination of falling chipset costs, nearly ubiquitous high-speed data connectivity, and improving cross-platform integration could mean our capacity to outsource the drudgery of household or industrial chores may finally cross a tipping point.  What are vendors doing to realize the vision of robots that perform useful functions and require less back-end work than just doing the chores ourselves?

Rural Broadband. Government gives rural service a lot of attention. But I want to hear what the private sector is doing to drive service into geographic areas with low population densities. The economics of service in these areas is forbidding.  But new technologies, such as non-geostationary satellite orbit, fixed-satellite service from the likes of OneWeb, Amazon, and Space, as well as newly available spectrum, such as the low-band frequencies T-Mobile acquired at auction just a few years ago, have the potential to finally close the gap between urban and rural consumers. What new service models have the most promise of raising the bar on rural broadband connectivity and which service providers and network architectures will capture the greatest share of this underserved market?

#CES2020 should be a blast. If you have some ideas on other things to watch, please let me know.  And if you’d like to connect in Las Vegas, shoot me a note.  See you there!

Posted in Data Protection & Privacy, Telecoms & Broadband Mark BrennanArpan SuraKathryn Marshall Ali

Webinar | New TRACED Act and Robocall Year in Review: What you need to know

It was a very busy year on the robocall front, and on 30 December 2019, President Trump signed into law the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act (S. 151), which the House and Senate passed by wide, bipartisan margins earlier this year.

The TRACED Act is the most significant robocall legislation in years. It requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take steps to improve call verification, reduce the number of illegal robocalls, and enhance the federal government’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) enforcement efforts. Among other things, for example, the TRACED Act increases penalties for intentional violations by US$10,000 per call.

We’ll also discuss other key robocall developments from 2019, including the Nuisance Call Act, a New York law that requires live telemarketers to give consumers the option to be added to the seller’s do-not-call list, as well as an important FCC ruling that clarifies the requirements for sending online faxes.

Please join us on this webinar on Thursday, 9 January 2020 at 2:00pm ET as we explore what these and other developments from 2019 mean for your business and your TCPA compliance programs more broadly.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

02:00 PM EST

To register, please click here.

Posted in Policy & Regulation, Telecoms & Broadband Mark BrennanArpan SuraJohn Castle

Congress Passes Bipartisan Robocall Legislation

On December 19, 2019, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act (S. 151), which the House of Representatives passed in a 417-3 vote earlier this month.  With the Senate’s passage of the reconciled bill, the bipartisan legislation now heads to President Trump’s desk for his review.

The Pallone-Thune TRACED Act requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take steps to improve call verification, reduce the number of illegal robocalls, and enhance the federal government’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) enforcement efforts.  More specifically, the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, among other provisions:

  • Requires Implementation of STIR/SHAKEN – The FCC must establish rules requiring voice service providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN, which will allow voice service providers to authenticate Caller ID information.
  • Permits Call Blocking – The FCC must adopt rules that: (1) permit voice service providers to block calls that fail STIR/SHAKEN; (2) provide a safe harbor for voice service providers that inadvertently block lawful calls; and (3) require voice service providers to create a process for blocked callers to have their calls authenticated and unblocked.
  • Creates an Interagency TCPA Working Group – The U.S. Attorney General and the FCC must convene an interagency working group to study government prosecution of TCPA violations and submit a report to the House and Senate Commerce Committees. The working group will include representatives from the Departments of Commerce, State, Homeland Security, as well as the FCC, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Additionally, the Attorney General has authority to consult with non-Federal stakeholders.
  • Requires the FCC to Initiate a “One-Ring Scam” Proceeding – The FCC must initiate a proceeding to protect called parties from “one-ring scams,” which are short calls made in order to prompt a return call (and thus subject the called party to charges).
  • Requires the FCC to Forward Evidence of Illegal Robocalls to the AG – The law requires the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau Chief to forward evidence of “willful, knowing, and repeated” robocall violations to the Attorney General.
  • Increases Penalties for Intentional TCPA Violations by $10,000 per call – The law creates a stronger penalty for intentional TCPA violations.

The legislation also requires a safe harbor to protect voice service providers from liability for inadvertently blocking lawful calls and a remedial mechanism for inadvertently blocked callers, and the legislation delegates authority to the FCC to determine important details, such as the timeline to resolve any complaints from callers.

The Pallone-Thune TRACED Act now heads to President Trump for his review and signature.