One of the grand tricks the telecom industry was able to achieve by getting its henchman, Ajit Pai, into the majority chairman position in the FCC was to kill net neutrality protections. The most special part of this was Pai’s argument that the FCC did not have the power to enforce, and should not have the power to enforce, any regulations on the telecommunications landscape. Of course, this was something that Pai then argued against when states like California and local governments began taking the argument to its logical conclusion and moving towards creating consumer protections for their citizens. It has also meant that any move Pai and his worthless FCC have made is merely a suggestion that most internet service providers (ISP) can ignore depending on how they’re feeling.
One of the battles fought before Trump came to office and destroyed net neutrality protections was getting companies like AT&T and Verizon to pony up for misleading consumers about their “unlimited” data plans. These plans would subsequently get throttled (i.e., the consumer’s service would be greatly slowed down) if the person paying for the unlimited plan had the audacity to take advantage and try to use their unlimited data. The point of actions like the FCC’s 2014 lawsuit against AT&T was to point out that you cannot tell consumers something is “unlimited” and then put very real caps and limits on it. That is, by definition, fraud.
In 2019, AT&T was able to settle with Ajit Pai’s FCC for a “wrist slap” of $60 million while being allowed to say they admitted no fault on their part. Keep in mind that in 2015, AT&T was fined $100 million by a Democratic-led FCC for the very same behavior.
In the neutered FCC era under Trump, cities and states have had to band together to sue the big telecommunications companies in order to try and get some consumer satisfaction. They have had to fight against the FCC, a body that is supposed to be on the consumer’s side, at every turn. TechDirt reports that AT&T is taking the “nothing is real” propaganda of our current White House administration and FCC into the court room to fight against its decades of consumer abuses and misleading advertising.
In a May filing, AT&T now argues that because reporters and other consumer watchdogs were reporting on the telecom giant’s misleading and abusive behavior towards consumers by offering up “unlimited” plans that were everything except “unlimited,” they can’t be have been misleading. You see how that works? People reported on AT&T throttling the speeds of consumers with unlimited plans, and therefore these things weren’t a secret!
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