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FTC's Ohlhausen Cites Activism as Market Mechanism Absent Title II

Federal Trade Commission acting chair Maureen Ohlhausen has joined FTC bureaus in backing FCC chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to roll back Title II and review the 2015 Open Internet order rules and even argues that net neutrality activism is a governor on ISP actions and a reason Title II is not needed.

Ohlhausen filed separate comments but said they were in agreement with those of the consumer protection, competition and economics bureaus.

Rolling back Title II would restore the FTC's authority to regulate ISPs, which Ohlhausen says would allow the FTC to apply its expertise on privacy and data security. 

Ohlhausen went beyond the bureau comments to argue that one of the market forces that will remain in place if FCC regs are rolled back—and that incentivize firms to hew to "non-pecuniary" values, meaning not simply serving the bottom line—is "the capability of advocacy groups to rally grassroots action for various 'net neutrality' causes."

"This advocacy serves as a strong constraint on the ability of BIAS providers to violate norms these groups support," she told the FCC. "Indeed, the potent reactions to past actions by BIAS providers have demonstrated the potential of such market feedback mechanisms to affect firm behavior."

(Photo via Gage Skidmores Flickr. Image taken on July 19, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 9x16 aspect ratio.)