ISPs Will Have To Serve Two Or More Data-Collection Masters

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Cable operators and other ISPs will have to provide data to both the feds and whatever states ask for it, the FCC has decided.

The commission says its broadband mapping and data collection efforts do not tread on states' rights to do the same thing.

In an order released April 26, the commission granted -- in part -- a petition by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners to clarify that point.

"[W]e conclude that the Commission has not preempted or otherwise precluded the States from mandating that broadband providers file data or other information regarding broadband infrastructure or services," the commission said.

The FCC said it was taking no position on whether any individual state's laws authorize such collection, or whether states should be doing so as a matter of policy. But it also said that it had clear authority to preempt state regulations in some circumstances, but, that in this case, it had concluded that it "has [not] exercised its delegated authority to preclude the States from undertaking mandatory broadband information collection efforts."

The FCC has been directed by Congress to undertake a mapping and data collection effort to identify areas most in need of help deploying and adopting the broadband "ecosystem."

The commission rejected the suggestion that not preempting state data collection would result in "multiple onerous and disparate reporting requirements." Broadband providers suggested there was little value-added from such duplicative efforts. But the FCC said that states were capable of crafting "balanced" collection regimes that would "supplement, rather than interfere with, federal information collection efforts."

It also said that to the extent that state efforts "thwart" any federal policy, providers can ask the commission to preempt them on a case-by-case basis.