Judge ruling allows the FTC to sue AT&T for throttling unlimited data customers

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Net neutrality may finally be a reality instead of a far away dream, but it won’t save AT&T from possibly going to court against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). A San Francisco federal judge denied AT&T’s bid to toss out the FTC’s lawsuit, reports Bloomberg.

The lawsuit, originally brought forth by the FTC against AT&T last year, stems from AT&T throttling its customers who still have unlimited data. The FTC, which closely worked with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the case, argued AT&T didn’t clearly state its throttling practice in marketing materials. The lawsuit also accused AT&T of not properly informing customers when they were being throttled.

At the time, AT&T dismissed the FTC’s allegations, arguing its throttling of customers falls in line with FCC rules. Interestingly, before Tuesday’s ruling, AT&T also argued that the FTC doesn’t have the authority to sue, since it’s the FCC’s job to regulate network management practices for mobile data services, regulation that falls right under the FCC’s newly-established Net neutrality framework.

In the ruling, however, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen didn’t buy the argument.

“When the lawsuit was filed, AT&T’s mobile data service was not regulated as common carrier activity by the [FCC],” said Chen. The judge also said the FTC still has the jurisdiction to sue for “past alleged misconduct,” regardless of the new Net neutrality framework.

Unsurprisingly, AT&T isn’t thrilled with the ruling, and said it will appeal as soon as possible. “We’re obviously disappointed in, and disagree with, the decision and will seek to appeal it as soon as possible,” said AT&T spokesperson Fletcher Cook.

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