Court of Appeals Restores FTC’s Authority Over ISPs

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in FTC v. AT&T that the Federal Trade Commission can regulate telephone and internet companies, reversing an earlier decision by a three-judge panel that stripped the FTC of its authority over “common carriers.” The full Ninth Circuit held that the common carrier exemption to the FTC Act is activity-based, not status-based. This means that the FTC can regulate AT&T’s data-throttling practices. The Ninth Circuit reached the result that EPIC and a coalition of consumer advocates had urged in a friend-of-the-court brief. EPIC also vigorously defended the FTC’s “critical role in safeguarding consumer privacy and promoting stronger security standards” in an amicus brief in FTC v. Wyndham.


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