A draft agreement announced by the FCC and FTC today outlines how the agencies will work together after net neutrality is killed. Under the plan the FCC will review complaints from consumers about ISPs, and determine if they are disclosing bad behavior like blocking or throttling content. The FTC will also investigate these disclosures, to make sure they are disclosures. Then, they will do nothing about the actual bad behavior.
The FCC is expected to vote on Thursday to replace net neutrality with a plan that makes no sense. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to let ISPs regulate themselves and kick his agency’s regulatory authority to the FTC. Pai’s plan is to have regulators at the FTC look closely to make sure bad behavior is buried somewhere in an ISP’s terms of service agreement.
This plan is a joke that doesn’t take the real world seriously. Pai thinks the FCC screwed up when it tried to stop Comcast from blocking BitTorrent in 2008, and he expects there’s a chance that ISPs will cause similar harm to consumers if his ironically-named “Internet Freedom Order” takes effect. (Of course he expects that, because ISPs do bad stuff all the time, and they’re consistently ranked by consumers as among the worst companies in America.) The idea that ISPs are going to regulate themselves would be hilarious, were it just a joke and not the impending policy of the US government that’s being implemented by a former lawyer for Verizon.