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Telecommunications

Telecommunications are the transmission—between or among points specified by the user—of information of the user's choosing, without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received.

Telecommunications may transmitted by radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable—including phone and internet communications.

In Texas, telecommunications services are regulated by both state and federal laws. The Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) oversees the state's telecommunications industry, ensuring that services are provided fairly and efficiently. This includes the regulation of telephone (both landline and wireless) and internet service providers. The PUC also works to ensure that all Texans have access to telecommunications services, including those in rural areas. At the federal level, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The FCC's rules apply to Texas as well as all other states, ensuring a consistent regulatory framework across the country. These regulations cover the technical aspects of telecommunications, such as spectrum allocation and technical standards, as well as consumer protection issues like privacy and accessibility of services.



Texas Statutes & Rules

Federal Statutes & Rules

Communications Act of 1934
This foundational legislation established the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and laid the groundwork for telecommunications regulation in the United States.

The Communications Act of 1934 was enacted to regulate interstate and foreign commerce in communication by wire and radio to make available, so far as possible, to all the people of the United States a rapid, efficient, nationwide, and worldwide wire and radio communication service. It established the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the purpose of regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The Act grants the FCC the authority to issue licenses for broadcast frequencies, enforce regulations to ensure the public interest, and penalize violations of its rules.

Telecommunications Act of 1996
This act represents a major overhaul of telecommunications law in the United States and was designed to deregulate the converging broadcasting and telecommunications markets.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first significant overhaul of telecommunications law in more than sixty years, amending the Communications Act of 1934. It was intended to open up markets to competition by removing regulatory barriers to entry. This comprehensive legislation was designed to allow any communications business to compete in any market against any other. The Act also provided a regulatory framework for the internet and online services, and it addressed the issue of indecent material on the internet with provisions that were later struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. The Act's provisions include the promotion of competition and reduction of regulation in order to secure lower prices and higher quality services for American telecommunications consumers and encourage the rapid deployment of new telecommunications technologies.

Wiretap Act (Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968)
This act provides the legal framework for the interception of communications and includes provisions for both criminal and civil liabilities.

The Wiretap Act, also known as Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, establishes the procedures for the interception of wire, oral, and electronic communications. It requires law enforcement agencies to obtain a court order before intercepting communications and sets forth the process for obtaining such an order, including the requirement of probable cause. The Act also includes provisions to protect the privacy of wire and electronic communications, creates criminal penalties for illegal wiretapping, and provides a civil cause of action for individuals whose communications have been intercepted unlawfully.

Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA)
This act updated the federal wiretap law to include protections for transmitted electronic communications.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) was enacted to extend government restrictions on wire taps from telephone calls to include transmissions of electronic data by computer. It also added new provisions prohibiting access to stored electronic communications, known as the Stored Communications Act. The ECPA protects communications while they are being made, are in transit, and when they are stored on computers. The Act applies to email, telephone conversations, and data stored electronically. It also created privacy protections for communications service providers and users, and it established standards for law enforcement access to electronic communications and associated data, balancing the government's need for obtaining evidential material with citizens' privacy rights.

Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) of 2000
This act requires schools and libraries that receive federal funding to implement certain internet safety measures.

The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was enacted by Congress in 2000 to address concerns about children's access to obscene or harmful content over the internet. It imposes certain requirements on schools or libraries that receive discounts for internet access or internal connections through the E-rate program – a program that makes certain communications services and products more affordable for eligible schools and libraries. Under CIPA, schools and libraries subject to CIPA must certify that they have an internet safety policy that includes technology protection measures. The protection measures must block or filter internet access to pictures that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors).