Developments in telecommunications policy being made in the legal system.
A federal judge approved the blockbuster merger between AT&T and Time Warner, rebuffing the government’s effort to block the $85.4 billion deal, in a decision that is expected to unleash a wave of takeovers in corporate America. Judge Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court in Washington said the Justice Department had not proved that the telecommunication company’s acquisition of Time Warner would lead to fewer choices for consumers and higher prices for television and internet services.
A federal appeals court ruled the Federal Trade Commission can move forward with its lawsuit alleging AT&T misled wireless subscribers by reducing data speeds for several million customers who thought they had purchased unlimited plans. The ruling by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals is a notable win for the FTC because it restores the agency’s regulatory authority over large internet service providers.
The special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations owith illegally using social media platforms to sow political discord, including actions that supported the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump and disparaged his opponent, Hillary Clinton. In a 37-page indictment filed in United States District Court, Mueller said that the 13 individuals have conspired since 2014 to violate laws that prohibit foreigners from spending money to inf
A state court judge in Ohio is allowing Attorney General David Yost to proceed with an effort to prohibit Google from prioritizing its services or products in search results. In a ruling issued May 24, Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge James Schuck declined to dismiss Yost's claim that Google's search engine is a “common carrier.” “The court believes, at this stage of the proceeding, that the state should have the ability to take discovery, develop its case, and present evidence to support its claim,” Schuck wrote.
A federal appeals court has reinstated a Texas state law that bans "censorship" on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, allowing Texas to enforce the law while litigation continues. A US District Court judge had granted a preliminary injunction blocking the law in December 2021, ruling that it violates the social networks' First Amendment right to moderate user-submitted content.
One thing that is extremely rare in the broadband industry is lawsuits between internet service providers (ISPs) concerning unfair trade practices. Big ISPs bully and compete unfairly against small ISPs all of the time, and yet you don’t hear of many cases where a small ISP sues the big ISP. There are several reasons for this. One is simple to understand – the big ISPs have a flock of in-house lawyers who can overwhelm anybody who sues them. Little ISPs don’t generally have the deep pockets needed to last through a long, protracted lawsuit.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals will not reconsider its decision in January to uphold California's net neutrality law. California's 2018 law barred internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes, but it only took effect in 2021.
The Federal Communications Commission announced that the FCC and Department of Justice (DOJ) have reached a $13.4 million settlement with TracFone Wireless in connection with violations of FCC Lifeline program rules. Specifically, the settlement resolves allegations that TracFone violated the False Claims Act by signing up more than 175,000 ineligible customers for the Lifeline program during 2012-2015 and that the false claims resulted from TracFone’s lax oversight and monitoring of its Lifeline program.