In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit dealt the Federal Trade Commission a major blow by calling into question one of the consumer protection agency's most important powers. The court said the FTC should be banned from regulating a company if even a small part of that firm's business is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission as a telecom service, otherwise known as a "common carrier."
[...] The court's decision this week to rehear the case served to nullify the ruling, so the loophole is temporarily closed. But it could easily be reopened if the court comes to the same conclusion, analysts say. Other possibilities include reversing the court's previous position entirely or coming down somewhere in the middle.
AT&T said in a statement that it looked forward to participating in the rehearing.
The outcome of the case won't just affect the FTC; it may also lend momentum to the FCC's effort to repeal its own net neutrality rules. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has argued that the trade commission should be responsible for policing internet providers, not the FCC. Right now, the FTC has no power over ISPs because the net neutrality rules consider all ISPs as common carriers.
Undoing the 9th Circuit's ruling for good would mean giving the FTC the ability once again to go after the parts of an ISP's business that aren't common carrier-related. But the FCC wants to go further than that. Pai has proposed undoing the classification of ISPs as common carriers, which could give the FTC even greater jurisdiction over internet providers.