Content Creators Seek FTC Help From Edge 'Abuses'

The Content Creators Coalition has told the Federal Trade Commission that its members need government protection from big edge providers they say are abusing their dominant positions on the Web.

That came in a filing with the FTC, which is launching a broad review of its competition and consumer protection regime.

It also comes as the agency is newly charged with overseeing network neutrality after the FCC deeded it oversight in the Restoring Internet Freedom Order.

The coalition represents musicians, including multi-Grammy winner Roseanne Cash--and others. Its big beef is what it says are those edge providers' "anti-competitive and unfair practices of dominant digital platforms," particularly failing to protect their content from being pirated and widely circulated online.

"While we appreciate the tremendous achievements of digital platforms in revolutionizing access to content and facilitating interaction among users online, their lack of responsible governance has created an environment in which the creators of digital content are perpetually shortchanged, while the platforms profit handsomely from their works," C3 told the FTC.

It laid out its case for why edge providers are the dominant creative content gatekeepers.

"[A] small number of seemingly unassailable dominant digital platforms like Google, YouTube, and Facebook have come to decide how we see the world. They choose to prioritize certain search results over others and are under no obligation to promote the most relevant as opposed to the most profitable results. They determine which ads a person sees based on massive data sets that they have culled and analyzed, sometimes without user knowledge or consent. They frame our digital experience, shape our discourse, and influence our preferences systematically in ways that are largely undetectable by users."

The FTC review comes as lawmakers on both side of the aisle are calling for government oversight of edge players in the wake of data breaches, improper sharing of sensitive data with third parties, Russian election meddling using social media, allegations of repression of conservative speech--of particular concern to Republicans--and more.

That climate was clearly not lost on C3: "If we don’t do something now to rein in these companies, after countless scandals and broken promises of change, when will we?," it asked. 

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.