The FCC plans to kill the open internet; don’t count on the FTC to save it

[Commentary] Scrapping the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) net neutrality rules will harm consumers and content creators, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) isn’t going to be able to stop it.  As a commissioner at the FTC, I can vouch for the fantastic competition and consumer protection work our small agency does with its dedicated and hardworking staff. There are many things it is equipped to do well. But protecting the open internet is not one of them. The FTC does not have specialized expertise in telecommunications. We don’t have engineers with technical experience in data network management practices. We don’t even have jurisdiction over common carriers. These are very real and significant limits to the effectiveness of our tools in ensuring that networks are open and free of harmful discrimination. After-the-fact enforcement by the FTC is not a substitute for clear preemptive rules. 

There are other problems with relying solely on the FTC. It can be costly, difficult, and time consuming to detect and prosecute discriminatory conduct–particularly for an agency like the FTC that lacks the FCC’s technical expertise in data network management. If anyone expects the FTC singlehandedly to be able to provide the net neutrality protections that Americans overwhelmingly support, let me disabuse them of that notion. We lack the tools, the expertise, and the resources to carry out such a charge on our own.


The FCC plans to kill the open internet; don’t count on the FTC to save it