Attorney General of Massachusetts

06/19/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/19/2017 14:07

AG Healey Urges FCC to Preserve States’ Ability to Sue Internet Providers for Deceptive Advertising

BOSTON - Attorney General Maura Healey joined a coalition of more than 30 attorneys general in sending a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking the agency to reaffirm the authority of states to enforce consumer protection laws against internet providers for false or misleading advertisements about their services.

The attorneys general oppose a petition, submitted by industry trade groups, that asks the FCC to declare that states cannot file lawsuits against broadband providers for misleading consumers if that provider is in compliance with FCC transparency rules.

'The broadband industry should be accountable under state law, just like all other businesses,' said AG Healey. 'Customers deserve to get the level and type of internet service they are promised and the FCC should reject this petition.'

In their comment letter , the attorneys general argue the FCC's transparency rules were never meant to address the contents of individual advertisements and the ways they may mislead consumers about the broadband service being offered.

For this reason, the FCC and the states have traditionally maintained concurrent enforcement authority to address unfair or deceptive practices by broadband providers. The attorneys general oppose the petition because it asks the FCC to block state and local authorities from routine enforcement of state consumer protection laws and to declare that the FCC alone regulates all advertising about broadband performance.

If the petitioners' request is granted, the letter argues, consumers will lose their existing protection from many forms of deceptive practices in advertising by broadband providers.

Massachusetts signed on to this letter, as well as Texas, New York, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.