Hello iCERT members:
This week has been very busy so far for iCERT in the halls of Congress, and there are a couple of important updates we’d like to share.
NG911 Funding: Through a combination of our advocacy efforts, as well as our work to build broad industry unity during this year, and some good fortune, activity on NG911 has quickly ramped back up this week. Earlier today, the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Communications & Technology, amended a bipartisan spectrum bill (H.R. 7624 – the Spectrum Innovation Act of 2022) by adding NG911 funding language which mirrors that from the reconciliation and Senator Klobuchar bills from late last year, except that the funding source is tied to spectrum auction revenues, which has great potential (up to $10 Billion). This is an approach which has been advocated strongly by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel this year. In fact, she used the opportunity in making remarks to the recent iCERT Spring meeting to repeat her call for such an approach to funding NG911. This is an important first step and kicks off what will hopefully be a much more productive process than the partisan reconciliation process in which NG911 funding was included late last year. However, there is a significant and unfortunate aspect to how the current bill is written. It allows for up to seven (7) years for the spectrum auction to occur, because it will likely take about that long to identify a band of current government owned spectrum and then cleared and prepared for auction. Therefore, it might not be until late in this decade before the NG911 funding is available for use. This provision in the bill is very concerning to iCERT and our stakeholder partners across the public safety space.
The silver lining is that we are only at the very first step in a multi-step process in the House and then in the Senate, before the bill is finalized and ultimately passed. We are in close communications with other stakeholder groups and will be strategizing on how we can work with the Congress to make the needed modifications to the bill, which will allow for a more accelerated funding timeline from the one currently called for in the bill. If you or your company can engage and lend resources to our effort, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or Don Brittingham. We will keep you posted as developments warrant.
Data Privacy: Last weekend, it came to our attention that House data privacy legislation, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, might have an impact on 911; in particular, on the ability of carriers (or others) to collect and provide location data associated with a 911 call. As a result, we reached out to the legislative staff to flag our concerns and offer to work with them to modify the bill by adding the clarifying language we believe it needs regarding exempting 911 services from the requirements of the overall bill. iCERT subsequently sent the attached letter to the leaders of the Energy & Commerce subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce, flagging these unintended consequences and our concerns for the record, on the occasion of the bill’s initial legislative hearing, which took place yesterday. The Data Privacy bill is also at the very initial stage in the process, so we believe we will have the opportunity to work with the legislative staff to modify the exemptions language to ensure that 911 services are not compromised in any way as data privacy laws are enacted. We will keep you updated on this as the process moves along.
George Kelemen, Executive Director