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US: FTC won’t let go of AT&T case

 |  September 28, 2016

On Tuesday in a Federal Trade Commission oversight hearing, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez told US senators “We are going to be seeking a rehearing in that matter” before the entire Ninth Circuit appeals court.

Ninth Circuit judges sided with AT&T, saying that the company is exempt from FTC oversight even when it’s providing non-common carrier services. This has raised questions about whether the FTC can enforce any of its rules against other companies that perform at least some common carrier activities.

The ruling seems to indicate that large companies with only small common carrier businesses are still subject to FTC oversight. The ruling said that “AT&T’s status as a common carrier is not based on its acquisition of some minor division unrelated to the company’s core activities that generates a tiny fraction of its revenue.”

This most likely means that the FTC can still apply its rules to Google’s search division even though the company separately offers fiber Internet service, but the judges did not set any clear guidelines for determining which companies may escape FTC jurisdiction.

In written testimony, Ramirez explained that the common carrier exemption “originated in an era when telecommunications services were provided by highly regulated monopolies. The exception no longer makes sense in today’s deregulated environment where the lines between telecommunications and other services are increasingly becoming blurred, such as when telecommunications companies are buying edge providers and consumers increasingly communicate over online social networks instead of landlines.”

Full Content: ARS Technica

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