Back in 2011, the Federal Trade Commission alleged that Facebook deceived consumers by failing to keep its promises to protect user privacy. The two parties agreed to settle the charges through something called an “agreement containing consent order.” The Commission also signed a consent agreement with Google that same year. The FTC issued a final Decision and Consent Order regarding the Facebook allegations in 2012. (A consent order is an FTC enforcement tool that operates like a legal settlement.) Without admitting to the complaint’s counts, the parties involved signed a document that basically says, “we both agree to enter this agreement to resolve the allegations in the complaint, so now you have to do the following things, and if you fail to do any of them, the FTC is going to impose financial penalties.”
Today, the full Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its Federal Trade Commission v. AT&T Mobility decision, determining that the FTC still has the authority to bring enforcement actions against companies regulated by the Federal Communications Commission for their “non-common carrier” activities.
In my last post, took the four most famous net neutrality violations to see how they would come out under the current rules adopted in 2015 v. how they would come out under the regulatory framework following the Federal Communications Commission vote to repeal net neutrality rules, based on the draft Order. To condense the approximately 5500-word analysis: all four incidents are addressable under the 2015 rules. None of the incidents are addressable under the combined Federal Trade Commission and antitrust regime that remains after the vote to repeal the rules, with the exception of Comcast’s deliberate deception about their blocking peer-2-peer protocols in 2007-08.
Today, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission announced an agreement to coordinate consumer protections following the FCC’s Dec. 14 vote to roll back the agency’s net neutrality rules.
Today, Public Knowledge joined 40 other consumer protection groups, digital divide advocates, and local government agencies -- including New York City -- in a letter urging Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to delay the vote on the “Restoring Internet Freedom” Draft Order, which would roll back the agency’s net neutrality rules if adopted. Specifically, the groups propose the FCC delay the vote until a pending court case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit -- the en banc review in Federal Trade Commission v. AT&T Mobility -- resolves.