NTIA Asks FCC to Streamline International 214 National Security Review Process


The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) today released a Public Notice requesting comments on a letter it received from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”), requesting that the FCC require that applications for certain international authorizations contain more ownership information and certification of compliance with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (“CALEA”).  Comments are due no later than May 23, 2016.

NTIA asks the FCC to require applicants for Section 214 authorizations (and transfers thereof), Section 310 rulings (i.e., requests to exceed the FCC’s 25% foreign ownership limit), submarine cable landing licenses, and satellite earth station authorizations, to provide the following new information in their applications:

  1. certain information concerning ownership, network operations, and related matters, including:  (1) corporate structure and shareholder information; (2) relationships with foreign entities; (3) financial condition and circumstances; (4) compliance with applicable laws and regulations; and (5) business and operational information, including services to be provided and network infrastructure; and
  1. certification that the applicants will:  (1) comply with applicable provisions of CALEA; (2) make communications to, from, or within the U.S. regarding services authorized by the FCC, and records thereof, available in a form and location that permits them to be easily subject to request and/or legal process by the U.S. Government; and (3) agree to establish a point of contact within the U.S. for the exercise of lawful requests and legal processes.

NTIA requests that condition (a) be applied only to applications that involve “reportable” foreign ownership levels (i.e., generally 25% foreign ownership in an applicant/licensee or 20% capital stock ownership in same).  Condition (b) would be applied to all applications for the above-reference authorizations.

Applications for FCC authorizations involving reportable foreign ownership are typically subject to review by “Team Telecom” (Departments of Justice, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce, State, and the U.S. Trade Representative) to determine whether the applications pose national security, law enforcement, or trade concerns.   NTIA asserts that by requiring the proposed information, applications can be more rapidly reviewed and coordinated by Team Telecom, thus resulting in a quicker decision by Team Telecom and the FCC.

Comments received pursuant to the Public Notice will be considered by the FCC in its drafting of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing the issues raised by NTIA’s letter.

If you would like additional Information about this proceeding, please contact Michael Donahue at 703-714-1319, mpd@commlawgroup.com or Ronald E. Quirk at (703) 714-1305, req@commlawgroup.com.

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