FCC Seeks Comment on Feasibility of Safeguards to Outage Reporting System
Friday, January 21, 2022 | Comments

The FCC released a notice seeking comment on several areas related to safeguards to protect Network Outage Reporting System (NORS) and Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) information.

In March, the FCC adopted a framework for sharing communications outage information with state, federal and tribal nation agencies to improve their situational awareness, enhance their ability to respond more rapidly to outages and to help save lives while protecting the confidentiality of the data. The new rules allow participating agencies to share critical operational status information with first responders who play a vital role in public safety.

In the notice, the FCC is seeking comment on the cost, manner and technological feasibility of agencies that receive access to the information under the new rules. This includes potential mechanisms to further limit the vulnerability of NORS and DIRS data to manipulation and improper access, which could otherwise become an increasing risk as the commission expands access by participating agencies to these systems.

In its order, the FCC adopted several safeguards including providing read-only access to the NORS and DIRS filings, limiting the number of users with access to NORS and DIRS filings at participating agencies, requiring special training for participating agencies regarding their privileges and obligations under the program, and potentially terminating access to agencies that misuse of improperly disclose NORS or DIRS data.

During its approval process, the commission acknowledged that some of the proposals commenters provided in the record, including confidential notification, headers or watermarks on the outage only reports could be useful. Therefore, the commission directed its Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) bureau to seek further comment on those proposals.

The commission also delegated authority to the PSHSB to implement in the two disaster reporting systems any measures and safeguards it finds suitable based on the record. However, those should not impose any new regulatory requirements on service providers or additional conditions on agencies seeking outage data. Those new measures and safeguards should also not delay the effective date of the rules.

Comments will be due 30 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register.

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