On September 4, the FTC filed comments in response to the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) Notice of Inquiry regarding development of a National Broadband Plan that will seek to ensure that every American has access to broadband capability. In its comments, the FTC states that the FCC should take into consideration the FTC’s two primary missions – promoting competition and protecting consumers in the marketplace.
The FTC comments point out that competition and consumer protection work together to benefit consumers. If competition and consumer protection are considered in developing the National Broadband Plan, the FTC believes consumers’ access to the Internet will be improved, as will their ability to enjoy specific content and applications once they have broadband capability.
The FTC’s comments question whether there is significant competition within the broadband arena. To evaluate that competition and tailor regulatory policies, the FTC suggests that the FCC use some of the analytical tools used by the FTC and DOJ in antitrust cases. Consumer protections also are essential to help foster greater adoption of broadband. They include meaningful and timely disclosures of service terms by broadband providers and strong data security policies that will safeguard consumer information and ease potential consumer concerns aboutonline privacy. Privacy protections are particularly important, given new technologies that allow broadband providers to track consumers’ online activities, to identify the source and content of much of the data they handle, and to manage that data in increasingly sophisticated ways, such as delivering targeted advertising online.
The Commission vote approving the comments was 4-0.