Pai suggested Tuesday that the Federal Trade Commission, not the FCC, should be responsible for policing the industry and protect consumers.
• “As a result of my proposal, the Federal Trade Commission will once again be able to police ISPs, protect consumers, and promote competition, just as it did before 2015,” he said in a statement. “Notably, my proposal will put the federal government’s most experienced privacy cop, the FTC, back on the beat to protect consumers’ online privacy.”
• Proponents of net neutrality say the FTC is ill-equipped for the task. For one thing, it’s not clear whether the FTC even has the authority to regulate companies that offer both phone and Internet service. And the agency can only issue enforcement actions on individual cases brought by consumers against companies.
• In other words, the burden falls onto the consumer to alert the agency about wrongdoing.
• “The average American is not going to be familiar with the process,” Falcon of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said. “It’s a lot of work to file a complaint with the FTC.”
• Moreover, the FCC can issue rules that the entire industry must follow, which would prevent fraud. The FTC doesn’t have such broad power, which means the agency can act only after a company commits a violation.
• “These cases would have to be brought one at a time, which favors the broadband providers,” Anant Raut, a former FTC attorney and antitrust lawyer in the Justice Department, wrote in an opinion piece for The Hill, “as opposed to the consumer-friendly way it works now, when the blanket prohibition prevents the activity from occurring in the first place. Eliminating net neutrality’s bright-line rules would shift the burden of enforcement against multibillion-dollar corporations onto beleaguered consumers.”