In furtherance of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order that was adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on December 14, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and FCC have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that lays out how the agencies will coordinate consumer protection efforts and manage enforcement actions. The MOU will take effect on the effective date of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order.
The Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which was approved by a vote of 3-2 along party lines, repeals the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order and reclassifies high speed Internet access service as an “information service” rather than a “common carrier.” The Order eliminates the “general conduct standard” that established comprehensive FCC oversight of the business practices of Internet Services Providers, and confirms the FTC’s role in consumer protection matters.
Under the terms of the MOU, the FCC will monitor the broadband market, identify barriers to entry, and take enforcement actions against ISPs that fail to comply with disclosure requirements, and the FTC will investigate and take enforcement against ISPs for unfair or deceptive acts or practices, including those related to the accuracy of disclosures. The MOU establishes a plan for the agencies to coordinate efforts to prevent duplicative or inconsistent actions, but also provides that neither agency is bound by the other’s actions.