Big Telecom’s Quest To Ban States From Protecting Broadband Consumers Continues To Go… Poorly

from the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too dept

We’ve noted several times how the Trump FCC spent four years being little more than a giant rubber stamp for the nation’s biggest telecom monopolies. That included rubber stamping mergers before even reading the details, gutting FCC consumer protection authority, and demolishing decades-old media consolidation rules crafted with broad bipartisan consensus.

The Trump GOP and Congress killed efforts to impose basic privacy rules. They scuttled net neutrality. And they basically convinced the FCC to lobotomize itself so it lacked the authority to police bad behavior by unpopular companies like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. If you recall, this unpopular policy paradigm was all propped up by the illusion of public support via the use of dead and fake people.

There was only really one telecom industry gambit that didn’t work out during the Trump era, and not because they didn’t try.

The telecom lobby convinced the Trump/Ajit Pai FCC to include language in the “restoring Internet freedom” net neutrality repeal that tried to effectively ban states from being able to protect broadband consumers from fraudulent behavior. The goal was fairly obvious: weaken FCC consumer protection authority, then proclaim that states couldn’t step in and fill the void. Basically: no oversight at all.

Fortunately the courts stepped in to point out that the FCC can’t abdicate its authority over broadband consumer protection, then try to tell states what they can or can’t do. Court rulings have also repeatedly pointed out that the Trump FCC’s attempt to do this wasn’t rooted in, you know, factual reality (which was kind of a theme during a lot of Trump era FCC proceedings favorable to the telecom sector).

This week the courts stepped in once again to tell the telecom lobby that it’s plan to ban states from protecting consumers isn’t going to happen. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals this week denied the telecom industry’s petition to have the full court rehear the court’s January ruling (pdf) in the lawsuit over California’s net neutrality law:

Again, when the federal government advertised loud and clear that it no longer cared about telecom consumer protection or monopolization, several states (namely Maine, Washington, and California) stepped in to fill the void with their own privacy and/or net neutrality rules. Comcast, AT&T and friends then tried to sue to stop them (with the help of Bill Barr’s DOJ), but it simply didn’t work out.

The story tends to get lost in the media weeds because it falls under the auspices of “net neutrality,” which has bored the public and press to death. But it’s really something quite larger. It’s the court system actively working (for once), preventing a heavily monopolized sector from effectively gutting most federal and state consumer protection authority based on little more than some wishful thinking and a few winks.

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Comments on “Big Telecom’s Quest To Ban States From Protecting Broadband Consumers Continues To Go… Poorly”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Time for another tiny-violin concert

As aggravating as it was having the regulatory limits basically gutted on a federal level thanks to a very industry-friendly FCC it never stops being funny that the ISPs now whine how hard it is to deal with multiple sets of state regulations, as there’s nothing quite like the schadenfreude from a self-inflicted wound.

They had a single set of rules and even that one set was one too many for them, now they get to enjoy the fruits of their corrupt labor and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving industry.

David says:


The returns from a poor-going fight are larger than the returns for giving up.

But we are not talking about a poor-going fight. We are talking about losses in a few of the 50 states. They may be painful, but are certainly dwarved by being able to rob the citizens of all the other states.

And they are not actual losses since the telcom companies are still free to make competitive offers. The “loss” is basically the kind of loss a thief experiences when home owners win permission to lock their doors. But they can still do regular business. In the few states that they did not manage to bribe out.

Anonymous Coward says:


There might have been a choice of law post a little bit ago that illustrates why California’s Net Neutrality law is not so small a thing.

Little things like, “if your business is headquartered in a state”, or “if you do significant business in a state”, or sometimes “if the harm occurs in a state”. All important. And given the throw-weight of California (vs, say, South Dakota), it’s by no means a small thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Same as California’s privacy law (CCPA), then. The big companies all seemed pretty unhappy with the prospect of federal regulation, and now they’re ending up with a patchwork of state and local rules instead (such as rules regarding facial recognition and DNA collection). Careful what you wish for.

David says:

Re: It's not projection

Projection is seeing in others what you are prone of yourself. You don’t need projection to blame others of what you are doing yourself. This is more like letting others do a training run for your upcoming deflection and look what kind of defense will work best for them.

When you finally do your heist, you employ the most effective defenses the others came up with, and when they object, you paint them as hypocrites. Because they were in denial before you. And whatabout.

ECA (profile) says:

Still have to ask

As the major ISP’s have bought out the tier 1 of the internet, which should make them responsible for the Backbone.

Can we be sure they have completed upgrades to the backbone?
And that 90% of the problem is that the ISP’s only update stuff, as THEY NEED IT, for the cellphone system.(why allot of this is only around the major freeways)(and local connections jump off the freeway into the local Cable/ISP’s)
And I would think that if the FCC, ever looked into Who owns WHOM, tons of these smaller(they look small) systems, Are owned by the major corps.(might already be known but nice to get it out there for Some to understand it).

REALLY would be nice to lock down the Economy for 10 years so prices wouldnt go up, as they TRY to Fix everything.

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