Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Notice of Inquiry (NOI) regarding its Emergency Alert Service (“EAS”) rules.  These rules govern how emergency alerts are transmitted by federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial officials to the public over mobile phones, radios, and televisions.

The NPRM, which is subject to public comment, focuses on proposed rules that would:  (1) prevent mobile phone service providers from permitting their subscribers to opt out of emergency alerts; (2) encourage states to form committees and update their State Emergency Alert System Plans at least annually; (3) formalize a process by which the federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments can report false alert transmissions to the FCC; and (4) permit the rebroadcasting or retransmission of alerts issued by certain government officials.

The NOI, which is intended to collect information and does not propose rules, seeks comment on the technical feasibility of delivering EAS alerts over the Internet, including through streaming services.  As a part of this inquiry, the NOI seeks comment on the definition of “streaming services,” to which any such requirement, if eventually enacted, would apply; and whether, how and through which technical means streaming service providers can monitor, evaluate, accommodate, and deliver EAS alerts to their users in an appropriate and effective manner.

Comments on the NPRM will be due 21 days after its publication in the Federal Register, with reply comments due 35 days after publication.  Comments on the NOI will be due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register, with reply comments due 75 days after publication.