Skip to main content

Consumer Groups to Government: Open Up!

Consumer groups including Consumers Union, Consumer Federal of America and US PIRG have called on the Congress to reopen the FCC and other federal agencies, pointing to lapses in consumer protections.

In a letter to members of Congress, the groups pointed to a number of shut-down related lapses in FCC consumer services. Among those it said were responses in consumer complaints, reviews of mergers, licensing, consumer protection and equipment authorizations — like new smart phones, for example — that "bring new electronic devices to the American public."

It also pointed out that work has been delayed on the spectrum auctions and could affect their timing. The first, though not the broadcast incentive auction, is supposed to begin in January.

"Finally, the FCC has ceased maintaining its online systems, leaving the public unable to access the resources, public comments, and consumer education materials available on its website," they said.

It remains unclear why the FCC had to make its site unavailable during the shutdown. Some other government sites were also inaccessible — the FTC was another — but many were simply parked, available for accessing archived info just not any new info.

They also pointed out that with the Federal Trade Commission closed and its Web site not functioning, consumers can't file complaints. For example, they said, "Consumers who are identity theft victims cannot access information that the FTC provides about the steps they should take or how to report the problem."