State Officials Voice Concerns about Terms of Use for FirstNet State Portals
Tuesday, June 06, 2017 | Comments
Several state officials are concerned about the legal terms of use document the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) has requested they sign before they can access the draft state plans later this month. Washington state sent a letter to FirstNet outlining its concerns, including the short timeframe for review of the terms of use and requests in the document that conflict with state laws.

The concerns come the same week state single points of contact (SPOCs) are traveling to Dallas for a state plan kickoff meeting June 7 – 8.

FirstNet sent the original “State Plan Portal Terms of Use” (SSP ToU) document to states in May 5 after a May 1 webinar to review the draft terms of use. After concerns were expressed with the first document, FirstNet sent states a revised ToU document May 30.

A FirstNet spokeswoman said the terms of use for the state plan portal are “comparable to other website terms of use.”

“The ToU aim to ensure the proper use and protection of the information in the portal, while allowing the states to have convenient access to information to conduct thorough reviews and discussions about their plans leading to the governor’s decision,” the FirstNet spokeswoman said.

The FirstNet spokeswoman said there will be a state plans portal with the state plan information and a public website for the public to learn more about the future of FirstNet. These sites will use the same terms of use.

The latest document suggests binding terms between FirstNet and its provider and reviewers who may be potential customers of the nationwide public-safety broadband network. State officials who are approved to receive and want access to all the information in the state portal must sign the document before they can access the information, state officials said.

“The draft SPP ToU includes many provisions that raise concerns for states, including some provisions that simply are not authorized under individual state law,” said a letter to FirstNet Chief Counsel Jason Karp from Ken Boley, Washington special assistant attorney general.

Washington specifically said states should not have to grant authority or make commitments to AT&T, FirstNet’s contractor, to access the state portals or participate in the nationwide public-safety broadband network. The letter also takes issue with language that would allow FirstNet to modify the license at any time without notice to the states.

“Such a provision has no place in a mission-critical public-safety partnership,” the letter said.

Other concerns cover potential conflicts with state open records requirements, language about the security of the portal and user accounts, limits of liability and others. “FirstNet must make assurances to the states that the plans the states review are correct and will be implemented if the state does not opt out — and if FirstNet fails to honor those assurances, the states must have recourse,” the letter said in explaining concerns with the document’s liability limitations. “Barring any other avenue, states should not be barred from seeking damages in the courts.”

Communication that accompanied the latest document said that if there are additional questions or concerns with the terms of use, the state’s attorney should contact FirstNet’s legal department. “The ‘take it or leave it’ statement is not evocative of the partnership Washington envisions,” Boley said in the letter.

Finally, as part of providing the state plan, FirstNet and AT&T should provide each state with a copy of the AT&T/FirstNet agreement. “Only with full knowledge of that contract can a state truly evaluate the state plan and the likelihood that AT&T will meet its obligations thereunder,” the letter said.

Brian Shepherd, Colorado SPOC and broadband program manager, said Colorado officials have been reviewing the terms and conditions document along with other states.

“We submitted the initial document to our attorney general (AG) who was assigned for this issue, and there were reservations on the initial document, which were echoed by other states as well,” he said. “FirstNet has since forwarded a modified version, which has been sent along to the AG. We have not heard back yet.”

Rich Reed, FirstNet chief customer officer, said the SPOC meeting this week will be an opportunity to review the state plans process in detail and for the states to understand how the online portal will operate. “In addition, there will be a number of opportunities for the SPOCs and their teams to learn more about the FirstNet network solution and the state plan review process,” Reed said in a blog.

"North Carolina is working with FirstNet to address our concerns with the terms of use for the web portal that will be used to deliver the FirstNet state plan," said Red Grasso, acting SPOC for North Carolina. "We are looking forward to the meeting in Dallas and hope to have more information in the next couple of days."

“We will continue the conversation this week at the state plans kickoff meeting, where we will train the SPOCs on usage of the portals and help prepare the SPOCs and their staffs for the state plan review process,” the FirstNet spokeswoman said.

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On 6/7/17, Richard Tannehill P.E. said:
As usual AT&T wants things done their way or the road-way.

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