FTC Case against AT&T Revived by California Appeals Court

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A federal court ruling allowed the Federal Trade Commission to push forward with a lawsuit against AT&T Inc. The case states that AT&T was deceptive in slowing internet speeds to customers through the use of unlimited plans.

In 2014, the FTC filed a lawsuit against AT&T alleging that the No. 2 US wireless carrier played a huge part of the net neutrality debate. The case stated that the company didn’t inform its consumers that it will “throttle” the speeds of heavy data users on unlimited plans.

The FTC then pointed out that in some cases, the data speeds were slowed to almost 90 percent.

AT&T argued that FTC regulation cannot affect the company since it’s a common carrier. This appeal was supported by a three-member appeals court.

The FTC then appealed to a full panel of US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The larger court ruled in favor of the agency and the lawsuit was revived.

“AT&T repackages the failed arguments made by regulated parties in such cases: it claims company-wide protection from the FTC because it engaged in some activities performed by an exempted party—in this case, a common carrier,” Ninth Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown issued in an opinion, en banc. “Courts routinely rejected such arguments in these cases, instead favoring the FTC’s broad enforcement authority.”

AT&T spokesperson Marty Richter said, “Today’s decision on jurisdiction does not address the merits of the case. We are reviewing the opinion and continue to believe we ultimately will prevail.”

The ruling received praises from both FTC Chair Maureen Ohlhausen and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

“It ensures that the FTC can and will continue to play its vital role in safeguarding consumer interests including privacy protection, as well as stopping anticompetitive market behavior,” Ohlhausen said in a statement.

Huawei CEO Discards Security Fears

Huawei logo on a building

Huawei CEO Ken Hu answered questions from reporters at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. There he said that “factual debate” was welcomed regarding any security concerns that governments or network operators have.

Reporters asked about news that the US government raised security concerns with the Australian government over Huawei building communication networks in the country. Hu then answered that he is willing to work with the government to ease any concerns.

“We are very happy to conduct open and transparent discussion with the Australian government and telecom operators,” Hu said. “On this issue we stay very positive and open.”

Hu also said that the pace of commercialization for next-gen 5G wireless network has picked up. It has begun pre-commercial development with more than 30 network operators.

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