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Federal oversight of Internet, broadband providers in flux

From the paper Tuesday morning:

By Cecilia Kang

The Federal Trade Commission could become a more powerful watchdog for Internet users under a little-known provision in financial overhaul legislation that would expand the agency's ability to create rules.

An emboldened FTC would stand in stark contrast to a besieged Federal Communications Commission, whose ability to oversee broadband providers has been cast into doubt after a federal court ruled last month that the agency lacked the ability to punish Comcast for violating open-Internet guidelines.

The version of regulatory overhaul legislation passed by the House would allow the FTC to issue rules on a fast track and permit the agency to impose civil penalties on companies that hurt consumers. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz has argued in favor of bolstering his agency's enforcement ability.

"If we had a deterrent, a bigger stick to fine malefactors, that would be helpful," Leibowitz told Fox News last week.

That provision to strengthen the FTC is absent from the financial overhaul legislation before the Senate. Some observers, however, expect the measure to be included when the House and Senate versions are combined.

Keep reading here for the full story.


By Cecilia Kang  |  April 27, 2010; 7:10 AM ET
 
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