Pai Defers Cambridge Analytica Investigation to FTC

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has said the FCC does not plan to investigate reports that Dish, Tivo and ComScore may have given Cambridge Analytica "the specific viewing habits of many subscribers in the United States."

That is the company under scrutiny for getting access to Facebook user info in violation of the social media platform's policies, though Facebook is getting just as much scrutiny.

Pai says the Federal Trade Commission should instead be the one investigating and added that he has forwarded the issue to the FTC, He said he was sure an inquiry would be in good hands.

That is according to a copy of his letter in response to Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who had asked Pai to investigate. An unhappy Dingell tweeted out the April 27 letter:


Pai told Dingell that it was unclear whether Dish shared individual personally identifiable information or only "aggregate data which does not identify particular persons." He also said the FCC had limited authority given that neither TiVo nor ComScore were satellite companies or cable operators.

"As our nation's premier privacy cop on the beat, the FTC has already announced that it will examine Facebook's conduct with respect to Cambridge Analytica," he pointed out.

That did not cut it with Dingell. "We need regulators who will follow their obligations under the law and conduct thorough investigations instead of passing the buck," she said.

The FCC will be passing even more oversight of broadband providers to the FTC with its reclassification of ISPs out from under Title II regs.

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.