A US appeals court announced it will reopen a lawsuit launched by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against AT&T Mobility for allegedly throttling data speeds of its unlimited customers.
The ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed it will reconsider the case in front of an 11-judge panel, despite ruling against the FTC in August 2016.
In a case originally brought in 2014, the FTC claimed AT&T restricted the data speeds of millions of customers on unlimited data plans after they consumed as little as 2GB of data in a billing period.
The government agency alleged the operator had not sufficiently warned users it would throttle speeds as a result.
However, the court dismissed the FTC’s case, stating AT&T was a “common carrier”, which meant it no longer was subject to FTC jurisdiction, following a ruling by US regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015.
The reopening of the case and renewed possibility of a favourable ruling for the FTC could have significant implications in the long term, particularly when it comes to the future oversight of internet service providers amid an ongoing net neutrality debate in the US.
Indeed, FCC chairman Ajit Pai recently raised the possibility of handing power back to the FTC when it comes to regulating ISPs, as part of his plans to roll back the country’s net neutrality rules.
In a statement, Pai welcomed the decision by the US appeals court to rehear the AT&T throttling case, stating it was a “win for consumers”.
“The court’s action also strengthens the case for the FCC to reverse its 2015 Title Order and restore the FTC’s jurisdiction over broadband providers’ policy and data security practices,” he said, adding: “Indeed, it moves us one step closer to having the consistent and comprehensive framework for digital privacy that the American people deserve.”