The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will revisit a data throttling lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against AT&T, the judicial body said on Tuesday. The case will be reheard by an 11-judge panel as the court will try to determine whether the FTC has the jurisdiction to regulate mobile service providers over data throttling, a notion that was initially dismissed last year. The federal agency originally sued the second-largest wireless carrier in the country over its data throttling practices, alleging that the company deceived consumers paying for unlimited data plans by reducing their mobile data speeds after they've spent a certain amount of data during a single billing cycle. Last summer, the court decided that the case cannot go forward due to the fact that AT&T is a common carrier and consequently cannot be regulated by the FTC.
Following the initial dismissal, the federal agency argued that it has the jurisdiction to regulate all common carriers so long as they're selling non-common services, which AT&T is. The FTC's officials were also quick to point out that if the dismissal of their lawsuit becomes final, such a turn of events would set a dangerous precedent for all future disputes between the regulator and other wireless carriers, ultimately hurting consumers. Given latest developments, the FTC is now seemingly back on track of assuming jurisdiction over Internet providers which will allow it to regulate them in the same way that it already regulates websites.
AT&T's representatives stated that the company is happy to participate in the upcoming court review of its dispute with the FTC, though the federal agency has yet to issue any comments on the matter. While this case has been developing for three years now, it's still unclear when the issue will finally be resolved, though an update on the situation will likely follow later this year. In the meantime, Ajit Pai, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), praised the court's latest decision, labeling it as being beneficial for consumers. Pai's latest comments are in line with his frequently stated ambitions to revoke the existing net neutrality rules and leave regulating of Internet service providers to the FTC.