Recently, the FTC and FCC announced their intent to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) under which the agencies would coordinate their efforts following the adoption of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order (the “Order”). As we previously reported, if adopted, the Order would repeal the rules put in place by the FCC in 2015 that prohibit high-speed internet service providers (“ISPs”) from stopping or slowing down the delivery of websites and from charging customers extra fees for high-quality streaming and other services.
The MOU identifies a number of ways in which the FTC and FCC will facilitate their joint and common goals, including:
- The FCC will review informal consumer complaints concerning the compliance of ISPs with the disclosure obligations set forth in the new transparency rule (and take enforcement actions against ISPs as appropriate). Those obligations include publicly providing information concerning an ISP’s practices with respect to blocking, throttling, paid prioritization and congestion management.
- The FTC will investigate and take enforcement actions against ISPs for unfair, deceptive or otherwise unlawful acts or practices, including those pertaining to the accuracy of disclosures made by ISPs pursuant to Order requirements.
- The agencies may coordinate and cooperate to develop guidance for consumers to assist in their understanding of ISP practices.
- The FCC and FTC will share consumer complaints pertaining to the Order’s requirements to the extent feasible and subject to the agencies’ requirements and policies governing, among other things, the protection of confidential, personally identifiable or non-public information.
- The FCC and FTC will share relevant investigative techniques and tools, intelligence, technical and legal expertise, and best practices in response to reasonable requests for such assistance from either agency.
The FCC is scheduled to vote on the draft Order on December 14, 2017.