FTC, not FCC, could rule the Internet if legislation passes

While everyone was watching the FCC and how it might interfere with the operations of a free Internet--to use the rhetoric of net neutrality--another angency--the FTC--could end up having a bigger say.

According to a story in the Washington Post, House regulatory overhaul legislation would let the FTC issue rules and impose civil penalties on companies that are perceived to be harming consumers. So far the provisions are missing from a bill traveling around the Senate but, according to the Post article, that could change when the two legislative versions are combined.

As expected, the proposed power shift has the usual parties scrambling to either block it or push it forward. If it gets through, it's possible the FTC could take up the charge for net neutrality for an FCC that was wounded--some say mortally--by a court decision that said it had no power to punish Comcast for throttling Internet speeds for bandwidth hogs.

"Everyone is trying to figure out who is on first and what the game is here," Art Brodsky, speaking for Public Knowledge, told the Post. "Everything is a moving target right now."

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