FTC Chair Ramirez Wants Broadband Privacy Authority

Federal Trade Commission chair Edith Ramirez wants some authority over broadband privacy, though she is not opposed to sharing the wealth.

The FCC deeded itself authority over protecting the privacy of broadband users' info when it reclassified ISPs as common carriers under new net neutrality rules, but Ramirez wants Congress to strike the common carrier exemption that prevents the FTC from going after false and deceptive practices of telecoms.

That came in testimony May 24 at a House Commerce Subcommittee legislative hearing on a raft of bills.

One of those, The Protecting Consumers in Commerce Act of 2016, would repeal the common carrier exemption, something the FTC was calling for before the FCC move.

She said removing the exemption "would enable the FTC to bring its extensive law enforcement experience to bear in protecting consumers of common carriage services against unfair and deceptive practices in the same way that it can protect against unfair and deceptive practices for other services," including edge providers including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Snapchat, which the FCC has said it can't regulate.

Ramirez says she doesn't mind sharing authority with the FCC.

"Although the FCC would retain its jurisdiction over common carriers, consumers would benefit from the FTC having shared jurisdiction because the enforcement provisions of the FTC Act provide for consumer redress. Whereas the FCC traditionally has exercised its authority to fine companies for noncompliance, the FTC focuses on putting money back in the pockets of consumers."

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.