FCC & FTC Sign MOU on Internet Freedom Order

After the December Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) (the “Agencies”) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) in the Restoring Internet Freedom proceeding to facilitate their joint and common goals, obligations, and responsibilities to protect consumers and the public interest. The MOU will become effective the same date the Internet Freedom Order is published in the Federal Register.

The MOU recognizes the following:

  1. The Declaratory Ruling, Report and Order and Order in Restoring Internet Freedom proceeding to be adopted in the December Open Meeting reclassifies broadband Internet access service as a Tile I information service classification, reinstates the private mobile service classification of mobile broadband Internet access service, and returns to the Transparency Rule adopted in 2010 under Section 257 under the Communications Act.
  2. Congress has directed the FTC under Section 5 of the FTC Act to prevent unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, and to enforce a number of other specific rules and statutes.

Therefore, the Agencies agree:

  1. The FCC will monitor the broadband market and identify market entry barriers by, among other activities, reviewing informal complaints filed by consumers, and will investigate and take enforcement action as appropriate with respect to failures by an Internet service provider (“ISP”) to comply with the Order’s requirements to file with the FCC or display disclosure subjects.
  2. The FTC will investigate and take enforcement action as appropriate against ISPs for unfair, deceptive, or otherwise unlawful acts or practices, including but not limited to, actions pertaining to the accuracy of disclosures made under the Order’s requirements, as well as marketing, advertising, and promotional activities.
  3. The Agencies will discuss at regular coordination meetings potential investigations against ISPs that could arise under each agency’s jurisdiction, and coordinate such activities to promote consistency or conflicting actions.
  4. The Agencies will work together to protect consumers, including through:
    • Consultation on investigations or enforcement actions that implicate the jurisdiction of the other agency;
    • Sharing of relevant investigative techniques and tools, expertise, and best practices;
    • Collaboration on consumer and industry outreach and education efforts.
  5. The Agencies will share consumer complaints under the Order’s requirements and each Agency’s policies and requirements.
  6. The Agencies may coordinate and cooperate to develop guidance to assist consumers’ understanding of ISP practices.
  7. The Agencies recognize that decisions made by one agency are not binding on or intended to restrict action by the other.
  8. The Agencies agree that the signatory and successors of the MOU will be the Designated Liaison Officers to serve as the primary contact for each agency.
  9. The Agencies may amend the MOU in writing, and amendments will be effective when executed by both parties. The MOU may be terminated by either party upon 30 days’ written notice.

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