FCC, FTC to Team on Consumer Protection

The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission have agreed on how they will team up, given their overlapping consumer protection authority, to protect online consumers in the wake of the FCC's decision to reclassify Internet access as a common carrier.

The FTC had been handling consumer information privacy, but that now falls within the FCC's ambit since there is a carve-out from FTC authority for common carriers. The commission has yet to come out with a framework for protecting broadband CPNI (customer proprietary network information) as it does for video service customer CPNI.

But the memorandum of understanding says that the agencies don't believe that the FTC's common carrier exemption precludes the FTC from addressing non-common carrier conduct by common carriers.

In a MOU released Monday based on one the agencies struck on telemarketing enforcement, the FCC and FTC said they will work together and engage in joint enforcement actions where appropriate.

They will coordinate actions that affect their respective authority, consult on investigations that implicated their respective jurisdictions, meet to review marketplace practices and exchange information on evolving markets.

They will also share consumer complaint information where feasible.

The contact points for the FCC in this sharing arrangement will be Consumer Protection Bureau director Jessica Rich, Enforcement Bureau chief Travis LeBlanc, and acting Consumer & Governmental Affairs bureau chief Alison Kutler

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.