The Acting Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Maureen Ohlhausen, has issued a statement that endorses a recent proposed rulemaking by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC rulemaking, proposed on May 18, is titled “Restoring Internet Freedom” and seeks to restore a “light-touch regulatory framework” by reversing a 2015 FCC decision that classified Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as telecommunications carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. The proposed rulemaking would also reclassify mobile broadband internet access as a private mobile service.
The FCC’s press release announcing the proposed change referred to the 2015 decision as imposing “heavy-handed Title II utility-style government regulation on internet service providers” and states that the new rule would be a “return to the longstanding, successful light-touch framework under Title I of the Communications Act.”
Acting FTC Chairman Ohlhausen released her statement on the same day as the proposed FCC rulemaking, stating:
I welcome the adoption of this NPRM as further progress toward restoring the FTC’s ability to protect broadband subscribers from unfair and deceptive practices, including violations of their privacy. Those consumer protections were an unfortunate casualty of the FCC’s 2015 decision to subject broadband to utility-style regulation. This new proceeding offers an opportunity to undo that decision and thereby return broadband consumers to the expert protection of the FTC.
The statement indicates that the FTC could, at least partially, fill any enforcement gap left by a change in FCC rulemaking, and is a reminder of the overlapping enforcement efforts of the two agencies.
The FCC’s rulemaking is currently open for public comment. Troutman Sanders will continue to monitor the progress of the rule.