AT&T Can’t Use ‘Common Carrier’ Label to End FTC Suit

Posted by at 11:29 am on April 1, 2015

A federal judge squashed AT&T’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by the FTC.

The FTC sued AT&T in October over throttling policies for “unlimited data” customers. Despite offering limitless data packages, AT&T throttles users who surpass 3GB – 5GB per month.

The FTC believed AT&T deceived customers. AT&T argued in court that it falls under the common carrier definition and is therefore exempt from FTC oversight.

The judge disagreed. “Contrary to what AT&T argues, the common carrier exception applies only where the entity has the status of common carrier and is actually engaging in common carrier activity,” said Judge Edward Chen.

The common carrier argument is legit as far as AT&T’s voice services are concerned, but not data services. “When this suit was filed, AT&T’s mobile data service was not regulated as common carrier activity by the FCC,” wrote Chen. “Once the Reclassification Order of the FCC (which now treats mobile data serve as common carrier activity) goes into effect, that will not deprive the FTC of any jurisdiction over past alleged misconduct as asserted in this pending action.”

The FTC’s case against AT&T can proceed.

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