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Are Your Communications Rights Protected?

TMCnet Feature

September 02, 2014

Are Your Communications Rights Protected?

By Susan J. Campbell
TMCnet Contributing Editor

The excitement in the telecommunications industry has the tendency to be hampered by legislation that can hinder development, stop mergers or protect privacy. The privacy bit can seem like a good one, but legislation taken too far gets in the way of productive business progress. Big Data is only as good as the information a company can actually capture and use.

Still, lobbyists work to get on the good side of those pushing through legislation to support the advancements in the communications space. Some are working on behalf of the companies seeking to profit in communications, while others may be employed by those groups formed to protect the interest of the consumer base.

One new law caught much attention recently as California legislators decided that a “kill switch” must be included in all smartphones sold in the state. Minnesota was the first state to enact the law, which is said to be aimed at preventing cell phone theft. Those opposed to the measure, however, believe that it threatens freedom of speech and free assembly.

For instance, governments can use the kill switch in situations where there is an “immediate danger to public safety, health or welfare.”  Opponents aren’t convinced that this is a real need. One situation in 2011 in San Francisco had officials shutting down service to cell phones within transit stations before a planned protest. Sounds a little like an activity that would happen anywhere but the United States doesn’t it?

Then again, privacy and loss of rights is consistently on the table in the communications space. Facebook (News - Alert) continually finds itself in the hot seat when a new app uses information we thought they couldn’t access. The forced acceptance of the new Messenger app is the perfect example, with articles flooding the pages of telecommunications sites everywhere, warning of the limitless access they now have to everything on our smartphones.   

The situation with the NSA may have soured the consumer at large when it comes to trusting those with the resources to get too close to our information. Washington is buzzing right now with talks of reform, but if the government is getting the information they want, is there enough of an outcry to change their practices? Arent Fox is one law firm paying attention to the activity and the outcomes, keeping the interests of its clients in the telecommunications space top of mind.

To share their insight on what is happening at the higher levels, the firm’s Ross Buntrock was on hand recently at the ITEXPO, talking with TMC’s (News - Alert) Erik Linask. Get the full scoop here in this video interview. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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