President Donald Trump took an early swipe at new and pending regulations, issuing an order late on Jan. 20 that could affect some of the rules coming out of the FCC.
Specifically, the order directed all federal agencies and departments to stop sending regulations to the Office of the Federal Register until administration officials can review them and decide whether to approve or reject them.
According to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, this is to "ensure that the President's appointees or designees have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations."
Regulations that have been sent to the office but not published in the Federal Register must also be immediately withdrawn in order for department and agency heads to review them.
As for regulations that have been published but have yet to take effect, they will be postponed for 60 days from the date of the Jan. 20 order. Notably, Priebus also encouraged agency heads to consider proposing a rule to delay the effective date for regulations beyond that 60-day period, especially in cases where there may be questions of fact, law or policy. Priebus said further notices of proposed rulemaking and comment periods may be necessary.
In terms of what this means for new and pending regulations from the FCC, the commission's controversial privacy order, which established a new privacy framework for broadband service providers, was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 2, 2016, and became effective on Jan. 3, 2017. But certain key sections centered on information collection requirements have yet to take effect, as they first required approval from the Office of Management and Budget.
Another section in the order that has yet to take effect includes a rule centered on data security. The rule, which had been set to become effective on March 2, required ISPs to take "reasonable measures" to protect customer proprietary information from unauthorized disclosure, use or access.
Opponents of the privacy order had objected to the data security provision, with NCTA - The Internet & Television Association telling the FCC earlier this month, "While the 'reasonable measures' standard is appropriate, the scope of data subject to that standard is overbroad and in excess of the commission's authority."
The association noted in a Jan. 3 filing that there are different interpretations of the standard across different agencies, adding the FCC's stated intent to look beyond the Federal Trade Commission and construe the standard in accordance with "data security requirements under [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act], [Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act], and other relevant statutory frameworks" only heightens the risk for confusion.
All in all, the NCTA asked the FCC to "reconsider and withdraw" the entirety of its broadband privacy rules — a move that now looks much more likely with Republicans holding a 2-1 majority on the commission.
The FCC also recently published plans in the Federal Register to amend its rules to allow phone companies to replace support for an outdated form of text communications, known as TTY, with support for real-time text, which allows characters to be sent as they are created without hitting "send."
The change, which had been set to take effect Feb. 22, 2017, would eliminate the need for consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or who have a speech disability to purchase expensive and hard-to-find specialized text devices.
Under Trump's order in relation to new and pending regulations, the real-time text and privacy provisions may be subject to the 60-day postponement. There is an option, however, for agency heads to make a case to the Office of Management and Budget director for any regulations that should not be subject to delay or review.