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FCC Sidestepped Public Comment on Fines Policy

03.06.2015

USTelecom, CTIA, NCTA and CompTel have filed a joint petition asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reconsider a new policy statement that adopts a treble damages approach to calculating fines for violations of federal program payment rules, regardless of other factors, which was issued without public notice, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

USTelecom believes the FCC policy statement makes a substantive rule change, tripling fines for violations of rules governing the Universal Service Fund, Telecommunications Relay Service Fund, local number portability (LNP), North American Numbering Plan and regulatory fee programs. Not only was proper notice and comment not observed, the treble damages methodology is “arbitrary and capricious” and appears aimed at driving increased forfeiture amounts without taking into account the range of factors outlined in section 503(b) of the Communications Act.

The associations are seeking a stay and petition for reconsideration of the new “one size fits all” treble damages approach — an approach that the filing said will lead to “potentially draconian results.” In addition, the FCC policy appears to ignore the Communications Act’s one-year statute of limitations, exposing service providers to risk of prosecution at any time the commission chooses to pursue a claim.

For more information, read the filing.