April 29, 2009

Clark Rector Jr., Senior Vice President – Government Affairs
Robert Kohlmeyer, Manager – Government Affairs

Supreme Court Rules in FCC’s Favor in Fleeting Expletives Case

In a 5–4 ruling, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Federal Communications Commission may fine broadcasters for accidentally airing obscene language during live television events. In the majority ruling, Justice Antonin Scalia said that the 2004 FCC policy was “neither arbitrary nor capricious.” The Supreme Court did not rule on the question of constitutionality. In 2007, a federal appeals court reversed the policy on First Amendment grounds. Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps called the ruling “a big win for America's families.”
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House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Announces Plans to Introduce Online Privacy Bill

At a House Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee hearing, Chairman Rick Boucher, D-Va., announced his intention to introduce a new, bipartisan, comprehensive online privacy bill. In 2005, Boucher and Rep. Cliff Sterns, R-Fla., cosponsored a bill that would have required consumer notification of online data collection and more stringent privacy policies. At the hearing, Boucher suggested that the planned legislation would go beyond a mandate of consumer notification and opt-in/opt-out choice. Boucher indicated plans to hold a joint hearing with the House Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee to examine online privacy, including behavioral advertising, this summer.
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FTC Chairman Warns Behavioral Advertisers

At a financial regulation meeting in Washington, D.C., Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz said that companies who use behavioral tracking on their Web sites for advertising are near their “last chance” to self regulate. The commission has issued draft self-regulatory guidelines that would, among other things, allow consumers to opt-out of all data tracking and require increased clarity in privacy policies. The AAF submitted comments to the FTC stating that any self-regulatory principles should be careful not to unnecessarily limit the tremendous benefits that behavioral advertising provides to consumers. Our full comments are available here. The FTC's proposed principles on online behavioral advertising are available here.

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Obama Names FCC Commissioner Nominee

President Barack Obama has announced he will name Mignon Clyburn as a commissioner to the Federal Communications Commission. Since 1998, Clyburn has served on the Public Service Commission of South Carolina, which regulates the state’s investor-owned public utilities, including telecommunications services. Before her service on the commission, she spent fourteen years as the Publisher and General Manager of The Coastal Times, a weekly newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina. If confirmed by the Senate, Clyburn’s appointment will fill one of two current vacancies on the FCC.

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