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15 Nov

FTC Requests For Another Hearing Against AT&T

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Hearing Against AT&T

AT&T has asked the court to let stand their previous ruling, which dismissed the lawsuit from Federal Trade Commission over mobile data slowdowns. In a recent paper filing with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, AT&T stated that, “At the end of the day, the FTC cannot dispute that, in the 102-year history of the FTC Act, it has never been permitted to press a case against a common carrier. A decision of this court re-affirming that age-old result is not one of exceptional importance warranting… review.”

The dispute between FTC and AT&T originated due to the prior practice from the major telecom company where they throttled their customers with “unlimited” data. The Commission claimed that AT&T duped over 3.5 million wireless subscribers by offering them unlimited data plans. However, they slowed the speed of the broadband connections, once the customers exceeded their monthly allotments.

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On the other hand, AT&T challenged the claim from FTC and said that the lawsuit should be dismissed, as FTC doesn’t have the authority to file an enforcement action against the common satellite carriers. The allegations from FCC were mainly centered on the events, which happened before mobile data was regarded as one of the common carrier services.

The U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District of California, Edward Chen, earlier ruled the decision in favor of FTC. He also added that the lawsuit from FTC was filed before the reclassification of mobile data as a common carrier service. This decision urged AT&T to file for an appeal to the 9th Circuit, who reversed the ruling from Chen in August. The ruling stated that FTC doesn’t possess the authority to charge enforcement actions against AT&T and other common carriers.

Now FTC has expressed their dissatisfaction to the August ruling, claiming it a broad decision, and have requested for another hearing in front of at least 11 of the 9th Circuit’s judges. Many advocates and policymakers, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), have backed the request from the agency.

In a friendly off the court briefing, Blumenthal argued that the ruling creates “a wide hole in FTC jurisdiction,” and it could “greatly limit the government’s ability to police unfair and deceptive practices in fields that Congress has long considered within the FTC’s authority.” On the other hand, AT&T argued that, “The panel decision’s impact on national regulatory jurisdiction is narrow, despite the sky-is-falling rhetoric of the FTC.”

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