Commerce Takes Second Look at FTC

The Federal Trade Commission will get a double does of scrutiny in the Senate Commerce Committee on Sept. 27.

There is already a full committee oversight hearing with commissioners scheduled for the morning. Now the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance & Data Security, will hold an afternoon hearing on FTC issues as well with some outside folks looking in on the FTC.

The new hearing was announced late Wednesday (Sept. 21).

Scheduled to testify at the hearing, “Oversight of the Federal Trade Commission: Perspectives From Beyond the Commission," are: Geoffrey Manne, International Center for Law and Economics; Berin Szoka, TechFreedom;  Joshua Wright, George Mason University School of Law (and former FCC commissioner); Sally Greenberg, National Consumers League.

Among the issues likely to come up in both hearings is the FCC's proposal on broadband privacy, and how it squares, or doesn't, with the FTC's oversight of edge privacy. The FCC's set-top box proposal, which is scheduled to be voted on Sept. 29, could also get a vetting.

Committee Republicans have been pushing the FCC to take a page from the FTC's privacy oversight and focus on tailoring broadband privacy to the sensitivity of information, and to adopt an opt-out, rather than opt-in, regime for information sharing, which has been the FTC's approach.

Just last week, the major ISPs called on the committee to drill down on the FCC proposal.

The FCC inherited oversight of broadband privacy from the FTC when it reclassified ISPs as common carriers, which the FTC is excluded from regulating under the false and deceptive authority the FTC uses.

There could also be questions about the recent court decision that called into question whether buying a common carrier could insulate edge providers from FTC privacy regulatory authority.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.