The Center for Democracy & Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Consumers Union respectfully submit these comments opposing NCTA – the Internet and Television Association and US Telecom’s petition for a declaratory ruling regarding broadband speed disclosure requirements.
The groups urge the Commission not to issue a declaratory ruling determining that “it is consistent with federal law for broadband providers to advertise the maximum (‘up to’) speeds available to subscribers on a particular tier, so long as the provider otherwise meets its obligations under the Commission’s transparency requirements.” Such a ruling would contradict the Open Internet Transparency Rule and the Commission’s guidance on compliance with the Rule, in place since 2010. It could allow broadband internet access service (BIAS) providers to make inaccurate and misleading statements to consumers about their network performance and capabilities, which the Transparency Rule is supposed to prevent.
The groups further urge the Commission to preserve the longstanding and effective federal-state system of cooperative consumer protection on false advertising and other deceptive business practices. State consumer protection law is not preempted by the Commission’s regulatory regime on internet service providers (ISPs). On the contrary, state prohibitions on unfair and deceptive business practices are harmonious with the prohibition of unjust and unreasonable practices in Section 201 of the Communications Act of 1934 and with the Transparency Rule’s prohibition of inaccurate and misleading statements about network performance.