The U.S. Federal Communications Commission last month announced that it would fine wireless carrier AT&T to the tune of $100 million for not adequately warning “unlimited” data plan customers about throttling their speeds. Now the company has responded, arguing that data throttling doesn’t harm customers. It also claims it is being prejudged, and has had its First Amendment rights violated!
“The Commission’s findings that consumers and competition were harmed are devoid of factual support and wholly implausible,” the company wrote in its filing. “Its ‘moderate’ forfeiture penalty of $100 million is plucked out of thin air, and the injunctive sanctions it proposes are beyond the Commission’s authority.”
AT&T, in its request to the FCC to drop the fine, also claims that it made all of the required disclosures to customers, and also argued that the FCC was stepping outside of its authority by both imposing the fine and making other requests, saying the statute of limitations has passed on the case.
As for the violation of AT&T’s First Amendment rights, the carrier claims the FCC has no authority to inform its customers that it had violated the Transparency rule in not telling them about speed changes for data throttling, because the statement was untrue, as well as being a violation of AT&T’s rights.
For reference, here is an explanation of the First Amendment, via Wikipedia:
“The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.”