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Court tosses federal lawsuit over AT&T's data throttling

Engadget logo Engadget 30/08/2016 Jon Fingas
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The FCC may be having some success hauling AT&T out on the carpet for throttling unlimited data plans without clear warnings to customers, but the FTC isn't so lucky. A Ninth Circuit appeals court has tossed out the FTC's lawsuit against AT&T over allegedly failing to properly disclose slowdowns to customers. While a district court had ruled that the supposed violations didn't occur when AT&T's service was covered by common carrier exemptions from rules on deceptive and unfair practices, the Ninth Circuit sees things differently. It believes that AT&T's exemption is based on its inherent status as a common carrier, not its activities, and thus that exemptions let the provider say as little as it did about throttling.

AT&T tells us that it's "pleased" with the dismissal, to no one's surprise, while the FTC tells Consumerist that it's "disappointed." Not that the network is completely off the hook, mind you. The FTC is "considering" its options and may well try to appeal this decision. And again, there's that FCC case -- the Commission could still punish AT&T with up to a $100 million fine if successful. The problem is that the FCC can't obtain refunds for customers like the FTC can, so you may never get compensation if you were frustrated by throttling you hadn't anticipated.


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