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Tuesday, December 12, 2017
FCC to Hand Over Internet Oversight to FTC

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to turn over oversight of internet service providers to another federal agency as it plans to vote on Thursday to revoke the 2015 "net neutrality" rules.

The FCC and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said plan to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to coordinate efforts under the new rules. The agencies said the proposal will "return jurisdiction to the FTC to police the conduct of ISPs."

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai last month unveiled plans to repeal the rules that prohibit internet service providers from impeding consumer access to web content. The 2015 rules bar broadband providers from blocking or slowing access to web content.

"The Memorandum of Understanding will be a critical benefit for online consumers because it outlines the robust process by which the FCC and FTC will safeguard the public interest," said Ajit Pai. "Instead of saddling the Internet with heavy-handed regulations, we will work together to take targeted action against bad actors. This approach protected a free and open Internet for many years prior to the FCC's 2015 Title II Order and it will once again following the adoption of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order."

"The FTC is committed to ensuring that Internet service providers live up to the promises they make to consumers," said Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen. "The MOU we are developing with the FCC, in addition to the decades of FTC law enforcement experience in this area, will help us carry out this important work."

The FCC siad it would review informal complaints concerning the compliance of Internet service providers (ISPs) with the disclosure obligations set forth in the new transparency rule. Those obligations include publicly providing information concerning an ISP's practices with respect to blocking, throttling, paid prioritization, and congestion management. Should an ISP fail to make the required disclosures-either in whole or in part-the FCC will take enforcement action.

As part of the MoU, the FTC will "investigate and take enforcement action as appropriate against ISPs concerning the accuracy of those disclosures, as well as other deceptive or unfair acts or practices involving their broadband services."

Democrats and net neutrality advocates plan a series of protests ahead of Thursday's vote. Pai's proposal has already won the backing of the three Republicans on the five-member commission.

On the other hand, the proposal is opposed by large internet companies including Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc.

The new rules are expected to take effect in January and draw court challenges.

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