US FCC resumes full oversight of broadband service providers

By Thomson Reuters Apr 30, 2024 | 2:31 PM

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Tuesday it has terminated a 2017 memorandum of understanding with the Federal Trade Commission that had shifted some oversight of broadband service providers.

The action followed the FCC’s decision last week to reinstate landmark net neutrality rules repealed in 2017 under then-President Donald Trump and reclassify broadband service as a telecommunications service.

The FCC said it will return to its prior position as the enforcer of rules covering broadband service providers, including prohibitions against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization practices; transparency requirements and basic consumer privacy protections that have long applied to phone networks.

Under the 2017 memo, the FTC agreed to investigate and take enforcement actions against internet service providers for unfair, deceptive, or otherwise unlawful acts or practices after the FCC said it no longer had jurisdiction in terminating the net neutrality rule that had been adopted in 2015 during the Obama administration.

“Consumers do not want their broadband provider cutting sweetheart deals, with fast lanes for some services and slow lanes for others. They do not want their providers engaging in blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “If consumers have problems, they expect the nation’s expert authority on communications to be able to respond – now we can.”

The FCC said prior commitments, including a 2003 memorandum of understanding regarding telemarketing enforcement, as well as the 2015 FCC-FTC Consumer Protection Memorandum of Understanding, remain in effect. The agencies will continue to share legal, technical, and investigative expertise and experience, the FCC said.

“The FTC is squarely focused on protecting Americans from illegal business tactics, from tackling AI-enabled voice cloning fraud to fighting the scourge of robocalls. We look forward to continuing to work in close partnership with the FCC,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Paul Simao)