A a provision tucked away in the financial overhaul bill recently passed in the House appears to give the Federal Trade Commission more oversight over the Internet, especially when it comes to privacy. The Washington Post reports:
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.
Responding to the news of the provision, the site TechDirt raises a good point:
[T]his would be a pretty massive change in policy, and as such, it deserves a full and open debate—something that seems increasingly rare when it comes to regulating the internet these days.