Developments in telecommunications policy being made in the legal system.
The Supreme Court curbed the Federal Trade Commission’s longtime practice of seeking to recover ill-gotten gains in court from companies and individuals who cheat or mislead consumers, upending a central enforcement tool the agency has relied on for decades. The court, in an opinion by Justice Stephen Breyer, ruled unanimously that a 1973 law, which gives the FTC the right to seek court injunctions to stop fraudulent or deceptive commercial activity, doesn’t grant the commission the power to seek financial judgments as well.
As expected, the Federal Communications Commission has asked the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to hold off on hearing a challenge to its response to the court's remand of its Restoring Internet Freedom net neutrality deregulation order, suggesting that challenge could ultimately be moot depending on how the new FCC deals with multiple petitions to reconsider that response. "Only one of the three Commissioners who voted for the Remand Order remains on the Commission, while two of the remaining Commissioners dissented, and one of those dissenters has since become the Acting Chairwoma
Broadband carriers are urging a federal appellate court to prevent California from enforcing its net neutrality law, which was passed after the Federal Communications Commission repealed nationwide broadband regulations. In a filing with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, lobbying groups for the cable and telecom industry argue that broadband is an interstate service, and therefore not subject to regulation by individual states.
The Supreme Court said Google did not violate copyright law when it developed its Android mobile operating system using code from Oracle, a much-anticipated ruling in the tech world that saves Google billions of dollars in potential damages. The court ruled 6 to 2 for Google in the case, which has major implications for the software industry. Matt Schruers, president of the trade group Computer and Communications Industry Association, said the court’s ruling “that fair-use extends to the functional principles of computer code means companies can offer competing, interoperable products.”
The Supreme Court vacated a lower court opinion that said President Donald Trump could not block critics from his Twitter feed, which since has been suspended by the company. The US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York had ruled that because the president had used the forum to regularly communicate with the public, he could not block critical individual users.
The US Supreme Court let the Federal Communications Commission ease limits on the ownership of local television and radio stations, siding with the broadcast industry and Trump-era regulators in a long-running fight. The Justices unanimously overturned an appeals court ruling that had required the FCC to first study the potential impact on female and minority ownership in the media industry. Republicans and the broadcast industry have been seeking to relax the ownership limits for decades, saying the restrictions are badly outdated.
AT&T Wireless announced it will be suspending its Sponsored Data program nationwide. Under this program, AT&T Wireless exempts AT&T’s video services like DirectTV Now from the data caps of its wireless Internet customers who subscribe to those services. This practice is known as “zero-rating.” All other data on the internet, including from competing video services, counts against users’ caps.
The Obama-era Federal Trade Commission spent 19 months investigating Google over allegations that it violated antitrust laws by favoring its own products over rivals’ in search results. The agency ultimately voted against taking action, saying changes Google made to its search algorithm gave consumers better results and therefore didn’t unfairly harm competitors. That conclusion underplays what the FTC’s staff found during the probe.