NYSBA Files Against New, Burdensome FCC EAS Cyber Security Regulations

NYSBA, along with other state broadcast associations, filed Joint Comments arguing against the FCC’s proposed imposition of new EAS cybersecurity monitoring and reporting obligations and harsh enforcement policies. Imposing new burdensome regulations may drive stations away from full participation in the EAS system.

The FCC proposes that EAS Participants (1) report any EAS equipment outage to the FCC and repair the equipment according to an ill-defined “reasonably prompt and diligent” performance standard; (2) adopt cybersecurity plans covering “all communications systems and services” that might affect the ability to provide EAS alerts, including constantly monitoring the cybersecurity threat landscape and upgrading cybersecurity plans on an ongoing basis in response to new threats; and (3) report to the FCC any unauthorized access to EAS equipment or any communications systems or services affecting the ability to provide EAS alerts within 72 hours of when the station knew or should have known of the unauthorized access.

Before moving forward with any new regulations, the FCC must first a number of other steps to improve the safety and security of EAS. In this regard, we urged the FCC to work with EAS device manufacturers to incorporate features like (1) modifications that automatically require password updates, (2) integrated firewalls and multifactor authentication, and (3) alerts for software patches and updates. The Joint Comments also recommended the FCC explore more secure alternatives to the public Internet for transmitting EAS communications. Finally, the Joint Comments argued that the FCC should retain the current rule that allows broadcasters to take broken EAS equipment out of operation for a period of 60 days without Commission notice or authorization, work with broadcasters to develop cybersecurity plans or incident reporting protocols rather than put that full burden on broadcasters without guidance on what the FCC will find satisfactory. We urged the FCC to reject the punitive enforcement stance outlined in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

A copy of our filing may be found here.

 

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