Attorney General Shapiro to FCC: Don’t gut broadband consumer protections

June 20, 2017 | Topic: Consumers

Bipartisan Coalition of 35 Attorneys General Oppose Industry Petition to Stop States from Enforcing False Advertising Laws on Internet Speeds

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro is urging the Federal Communications Commission to reject a cable and telecommunications industry petition intended to stop states from enforcing state false advertising laws related to Internet speeds.

In a comment submitted to the FCC, Attorney General Shapiro and a bipartisan coalition of 34 other Attorneys General underscored the long-standing role of state Attorneys General in protecting broadband consumers. As the comment makes clear, the industry is seeking a ruling that exceeds the authority of the FCC and would upend the longstanding dual federal-state regulation of deceptive practices in the telecommunications industry. This would leave consumers in Pennsylvania and across the country without the state protections from unfair and deceptive business practices that help ensure they are receiving the internet speeds they’re paying for.

“Broadband providers must adhere to the Internet speed promises they make to customers, just like every other industry must obey truth in advertising requirements,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “My job is to protect Pennsylvania consumers and I’m calling on the FCC to deny this petition, protect the interests of consumers and cease efforts to undermine the authority of state Attorneys General.”

The state law which the Office of Attorney General uses to protect broadband consumers is the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

“As the chief law enforcement officers of our respective states, we understand the vital importance of protecting consumers against unfair and deceptive business practices—including those of broadband providers,” the Attorneys General wrote in their comment to the FCC on Friday. “Broadband access is an essential aspect of our constituents’ work, life and play. The states’ traditional consumer protection powers must be left undisturbed to protect consumers from false and misleading claims by broadband providers.”

The industry’s petition was submitted on May 15th by two trade associations representing fixed and wireless broadband companies (US Telecom and The Internet & Television Association). The petition seeks to enlist the FCC in improperly gutting state and federal requirements that bar deceptive advertising of Internet speeds.

In addition to Attorney General Shapiro, the 34 other Attorneys General signed onto the comment which can be viewed here.

# # #