The Federal Communications Commission is the foremost federal agency who has authority over all matters arising from the telecommunications industry. The 1934 act creating the FCC was amended only in 1996 by the Telecommunications Act, which currently is the major telecommunications law in the United States. The 1996 Act regulates electronic communications and broadcasting in America. The federal government has upper hand in the regulation of telecommunications in the United States and the 1996 Act included the Internet as a telecommunications medium. The 1996 Act also provides for spectrum allotment, media cross-ownership, and broader competition in the telecommunications industry. The 1996 Act addressed numerous issues relating to telecommunications but are seen by many as already outdated at this time due to technological advancements following the 1996 enactment. The telecommunications industry is heavily regulated by the federal government mainly because of evolving nature of the industry and rapid technological advancements, which results to new legal issues.
After the 1996 enactment of the Telecommunications Act, numerous federal legislation followed, such as the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which regulates pornographic material on the Internet. In addition to federal law, state laws are also in place regulating the telecommunications industry although these laws are in compliance with federal standards. Moreover, there are private organizations, such as the Media Law Resource Center, that serve as watchdogs on specific fields relating to telecommunications.
The telecommunications industry pervades almost all areas of life in the United States, including homeland security. The federal government requires telecommunications companies to comply with strict regulations, especially in the installation of new technology as these technology may have the tendency to breach the privacy of individuals or the security of the nation. The main goal of the 1996 Telecommunications Act was to break up the monopoly in the industry. Federal regulations are constantly evolving in order to free up the market. The 1996 Act gave the American market numerous options in terms of radio, television, and communications. Moreover, the 1996 Act provides stringent measures on limiting content in television in order to protect children. This move is not as easy as it was in 1996 due to the advent of the Internet and the proliferation of numerous social media platforms.
The rapid advancement of technology in the telecommunications sector brings with it numerous legal issues that, if not mitigated now by expert telecommunications law attorney, may blow up into serious, costly, and lengthy litigation in the future. The main work performed by telecommunications law attorney is to make sure companies are in compliance with telecommunications law in order to avoid stiff penalties, or, worse, imprisonment for officers and directors, especially when found to have grossly violated the law. Compliance with the law requires registration, licensing, and, often, application for patent rights, in order for a telecommunications company to operate. In addition, telecommunications law attorneys also ensure that the company is operating as prescribed by the law by making sure the company is not invading other people's privacies with telemarketing schemes or are harming children with violent and sexual content in the context of televisions. All these works are done in order to prevent litigation, which can often not be avoided.