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posted by martyb on Tuesday February 27 2018, @10:42AM   Printer-friendly
from the uncommon-carrier dept.

AT&T has been involved in a long-running battle with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In 2014, the agency sued AT&T for throttling its customers' unlimited mobile data plans while not properly informing them it would be doing so. A few months later, the company claimed that its common carrier status meant it wasn't under the jurisdiction of the FTC and it asked a court to dismiss the agency's suit. In 2015, a judge rejected the carrier's claim, but in 2016, a three-member Ninth Circuit appeals court tossed out that ruling and the FTC's lawsuit saying that AT&T's common carrier status did indeed exempt it from the FTC's regulatory jurisdiction. And that brings us to today. As the Wall Street Journal reports, a federal appeals court has ruled that the FTC can proceed with its lawsuit, rejecting the Ninth Circuit court's earlier decision.

The ruling of the full-panel Ninth Circuit appeals court backs the FTC's original argument, which says that because the services in question weren't part of the those that fall under AT&T's common carrier status, its lawsuit is valid.

[...] FTC Chair Maureen Ohlhausen said in a statement, "I welcome the Ninth Circuit's ruling as good news for consumers. It ensures that the FTC can and will continue to play its vital role in safeguarding consumer interests including privacy protection, as well as stopping anticompetitive market behavior."

[...] An AT&T spokesperson told Reuters, "Today's decision on jurisdiction does not address the merits of the case. We are reviewing the opinion and continue to believe we ultimately will prevail."

Source:
https://www.engadget.com/2018/02/26/court-rules-ftc-lawsuit-att-proceed/


Original Submission

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Big Three Carriers Pay $10M to Settle Claims of False “Unlimited” Advertising 46 comments

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2024/05/big-three-carriers-pay-10m-to-settle-claims-of-false-unlimited-advertising/

T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T will pay a combined $10.2 million in a settlement with US states that alleged the carriers falsely advertised wireless plans as "unlimited" and phones as "free." The deal was announced yesterday by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

"A multistate investigation found that the companies made false claims in advertisements in New York and across the nation, including misrepresentations about 'unlimited' data plans that were in fact limited and had reduced quality and speed after a certain limit was reached by the user," the announcement said.

T-Mobile and Verizon agreed to pay $4.1 million each while AT&T agreed to pay a little over $2 million. The settlement includes AT&T subsidiary Cricket Wireless and Verizon subsidiary TracFone.
[...]
The carriers denied any illegal conduct despite agreeing to the settlement. In addition to payments to each state, the carriers agreed to changes in their advertising practices. It's unclear whether consumers will get any refunds out of the settlement, however.
[...]
The three carriers agreed that all advertisements to consumers must be "truthful, accurate and non-misleading." They also agreed to the following changes, the NY attorney general's office said:

  • "Unlimited" mobile data plans can only be marketed if there are no limits on the quantity of data allowed during a billing cycle.
  • Offers to pay for consumers to switch to a different wireless carrier must clearly disclose how much a consumer will be paid, how consumers will be paid, when consumers can expect payment, and any additional requirements consumers have to meet to get paid.
  • Offers of "free" wireless devices or services must clearly state everything a consumer must do to receive the "free" devices or services.
  • Offers to lease wireless devices must clearly state that the consumer will be entering into a lease agreement.
  • All "savings" claims must have a reasonable basis. If a wireless carrier claims that consumers will save using its services compared to another wireless carrier, the claim must be based on similar goods or services or differences must be clearly explained to the consumer.

The advertising restrictions are to be in place for five years.

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  • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 27 2018, @10:47AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 27 2018, @10:47AM (#644555)

    A crowd of people was standing at the bottom of a tall building, looking up and gasping.

    "Is he going to do it!? He can't be serious, right!?" one spectator said.
    "This is madness. Someone needs to stop him, now!" another said.

    Everyone was clearly concerned about the well-being of the man on the brink of jumping off the tall building, which was around 300 feet tall. The man - who was doing this to perform some absurd stunt - was insane; everyone present believed so. What happened next caused many people to scream: The man jumped head-first off the building.

    "He's going to die! He's going to die!" shouted one person.
    "Get out of the way!" shouted a different person.

    The man, whilst falling, adjusted his fist such that it would be the first part of his body to come into contact with the ground. He seemed to be a speeding bullet as he rocketed towards certain demise. However, what happened next was far beyond the wildest imaginations of everyone present. The man... survived.

    As the man's fist came into contact with the ground, a loud *slam* was heard; he was lifting up his entire body with his arm, which was neither broken nor even injured. Unbelievable. Only someone with superhuman levels of strength could pull off such a feat. This man was a true legend. Everyone was awed to the point of absolute silence.

    As the crowd slowly gathered around the man, the woman whose head the man's fist smashed continued to spurt out blood. She had served her purpose.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 27 2018, @05:22PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 27 2018, @05:22PM (#644680)

      You just got laid off and can't find a new job cause you're suck a douche? I'm crying a river just for you.

  • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday February 27 2018, @05:39PM

    by Freeman (732) on Tuesday February 27 2018, @05:39PM (#644698) Journal

    Sure, that's a pessimistic outlook, but it's probably fairly realistic. I could hope that the Lawsuit against AT&T would send Internet companies a wake-up call and they'd all of a sudden support net neutrality, start building out fiber to everywhere, and reduce costs to the consumer. That just seems much more like crazy talk than anything, though.

    --
    Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by requerdanos on Wednesday February 28 2018, @12:23AM (1 child)

    by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 28 2018, @12:23AM (#644890) Journal

    [T]he Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In 2014, the agency sued AT&T for throttling its customers' unlimited mobile data plans... [AT&T] claimed that its common carrier status meant it wasn't under the jurisdiction of the FTC...

    The ruling of the full-panel Ninth Circuit appeals court backs the FTC's original argument, which says that because the services in question weren't part of the those that fall under AT&T's common carrier status, its lawsuit is valid.

    Here's what's ironic. Net Neutrality protections that the FCC, under the leadership of ISP lobbyist Ajit "screw the consumer" Pai, recently decided to do away with, were part and parcel of extending common carrier status (and common carrier protection) to ISPs, who in return, as common carriers, would respect net neutrality.

    AT&T claiming that common carrier status (which they still enjoy as a phone carrier) gives them the ability to throttle certain customers at their whim with impunity is the opposite of the point. I hope they lose in a big way.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday February 28 2018, @05:23AM

      by frojack (1554) on Wednesday February 28 2018, @05:23AM (#644979) Journal

      BUT you know this suit is with the FTC right?

      There's a significant school of thought that the consumer protections that net neutrality represents actually belong in the agency responsible for consumers protection.

      Maybe this is a good turn?

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
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