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AT&T Government Businesses Cellphones Communications Software The Courts United States

US Appeals Court Dismisses AT&T Data Throttling Lawsuit (reuters.com) 26

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A federal appeals court in California on Monday dismissed a U.S. government lawsuit that accused ATT Inc of deception for reducing internet speeds for customers with unlimited mobile data plans once their use exceeded certain levels. The company, however, could still face a fine from the Federal Communications Commission regarding the slowdowns, also called "data throttling." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said it ordered a lower court to dismiss the data-throttling lawsuit, which was filed in 2014 by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC sued ATT on the grounds that the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier failed to inform consumers it would slow the speeds of heavy data users on unlimited plans. In some cases, data speeds were slowed by nearly 90 percent, the lawsuit said. The FTC said the practice was deceptive and, as a result, barred under the Federal Trade Commission Act. ATT argued that there was an exception for common carriers, and the appeals court agreed.
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US Appeals Court Dismisses AT&T Data Throttling Lawsuit

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  • Common Carriers! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trip Ericson ( 864747 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @06:26PM (#52792581) Homepage

    Good to know they think they're a common carrier. This should make future regulations putting them under such regulations stick more easily.

    • by sir-gold ( 949031 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @07:42PM (#52793029)

      The problem with this is, when at&t has to rely on common carrier status for protection, they claim that the entire company (including the wireless and high-speed internet divisions) are all covered under that common carrier status.

      But when they are required to fulfill common carrier obligations, they claim that only the wire-line division is common carrier, and that the other divisions (wireless and high-speed internet) are are exempt from those obligations.

      at&t has taken the idea of "having your cake, and eating it too" to the extreme

  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @06:31PM (#52792621)

    "There's and exception to what we can get away with concerning our BS marketing since we are a common carrier!"

    (Except we don't like that classification, and want to be a digital media service instead, like AOL/TimeWarner, so we can get a slice of other lucrative markets through flagrant disregard of those nasty net neutrality rules.)

    Now that they have made and been granted a defence based on their being a CC, it should be used to beat them every time time they try to pretend they are a media distribution service instead, like when they want to throttle packets originating outside their network to favor local traffic delivery for the same kind of service, in contravention of NN.)

    But this is fascist 'merica, where corporations are always truthful, and their legal arguments are always right, even they are contradictory. ;)

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by NotInHere ( 3654617 )

      Its like with the war on terrorism. Its a war so the US can march into afghanistan, but its no war so the US can run gitmo, and the treating of the terrorists doesn't have to conform the geneva convention.

    • by JesseMcDonald ( 536341 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @06:58PM (#52792787) Homepage

      ISPs are not all equivalent. AT&T is a telephone company, and the telephone companies have always been considered common carriers, even when they branched out into providing DSL, and later fiber. Cable companies, on the other hand, are not traditional common carriers, and that status, too, has carried over into their respective Internet services.

      Being a common carrier does not mean that the ISP cannot make a distinction between local and non-local traffic. This is not that different from charging extra for long-distance service, which was very common among the common-carrier phone companies before VoIP made most voice calls "too cheap to meter". It does mean that the ISP does not get to pick and choose the type of traffic they will carry, which should rule out things like DPI filtering or restrictions against running servers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      all you netflix and youtube fat asses make me laugh. 30 years ago we laughed at couch potatoes cause all they did was watch TV all day. now you all think you're some kind of geniuses for staring into your phone all day and binge watching or whatever and it's some kind of a violation of human rights when you don't get what you want

      • Not even the right argument bro.

        It isn't that I want to bing watch netflix, it is that netflix should not be billed to deliver content that I requested. I should be billed for having the data that I requested delivered to me.

        ISPS want to charge me for having the data I requested delivered to me, and to charge the people providing the data I want for having it cross their network as it is delivered. Moreover, they want to use this double dipping fee as a means to unfairly market their own, competing sources

        • ISPS want to charge me for having the data I requested delivered to me, and to charge the people providing the data I want for having it cross their network as it is delivered.

          It's called 'peering' [techopedia.com]

          • Peering is a prenegotiated flat rate cost.

            it does not matter the kind of data being sent, only that data was sent. That is fine.

            Violations if NN happen when instead of a negotiated agreement, like peering, (or worse, in addition to), the carrier decides that a streaming video packet costs more than an http get request packet, then inspecting those packets, and issuing a bill for the difference.

            If it costs more to send a packet of a certain type (because god forbid the isp not be allowed to bufferbloat the

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The US government doesn't even pretend they are there for the general population anymore. They just do what the corporations tell them to do. Sigh... death of another democracy :-(

  • As long as they're up front about the throttling point, I see no problem with this. You're still free to use up all the data you can, just not as fast as before the throttle point. People really need to understand that there is no such thing as unlimited bandwidth, especially wirelessly. These are the same people that will sue because they can't watch a movie without buffering and/or stuttering because everyone around them is streaming 4k video as well.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by crbowman ( 7970 )

      So you mean there is a limit? And if I need to learn that there are limits on bandwidth then perhaps the carriers ought to learn that too and stop advertising something that doesn't exist.

      I get it that there are limits in that we all share the bandwidth of some critical component at some point and I think generally we're all OK with that. But when you start to impose constraints above and beyond that then I have a problem with you describing it as unlimited.

      • To heck with both data and bandwidth then.

        How about Unlimited Use. AT&T/whoever figures out how many megabytes they are willing for me to transfer per month. After each day of service, compute how much data I have left and divide by time remaining in month, and set the speed cap to that. Repeat daily. Set a minimum guaranteed so things like maps or basic browsing work even if I've turned my phone into a hotspot for 12 people streaming netflix and have blown my bandwidth for the month.

      • by bjwest ( 14070 )
        You're right. Let all those who have unlimited plans sue because they're not getting infinity bytes at infinity speed. I agree the ISPs should be a bit more clear in their description of service, but the customers need to use a bit of common sense as well. Hell you don't even get unlimited bandwidth between your hard drive or memory and CPU. Are you going to sue the manufacturer of your motherboard?

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein