In effect, AT&T was trying to create a loophole whereby no federal agency would be looking over its shoulder.
The 9th Circuit decided that "common sense" suggests the line between phone and internet companies has become blurry. "A phone company is no longer just a phone company," the judges ruled. So the FTC's lawsuit can move forward.
Ajit Pai, President Trump's appointee as chairman of the FCC and a former Verizon lawyer, said the ruling means the Federal Trade Commission "will once again be able to police internet service providers."
Well, sort of. The FTC enforces rules on fraud and deception -- in this case, accusations that AT&T reduced customers' data speeds after selling them "unlimited" data plans.
The agency is not empowered to address other issues raised by net neutrality, such as an internet service provider's treatment of content.
That's why Democrats in the U.S. Senate this week introduced a bill to repeal the FCC's net neutrality repeal.
"President Trump and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai might want to end the internet as we know it, but we won't agonize, we will organize," Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said in introducing the legislation.
"The internet is for all -- the students, teachers, innovators, hard-working families, small businesses and activists -- not just Verizon, Charter, AT&T and Comcast and corporate interests," he said.
That, undoubtedly, will come as a surprise to Verizon, Charter, AT&T and Comcast and corporate interests.
About The Writer
David Lazarus, a Los Angeles Times columnist, writes on consumer issues. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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