Coalition Calls on FCC to Prohibit Forced Arbitration

A coalition of privacy advocates have submitted comments asking the FCC to prohibit forced arbitration clauses in communications contracts. Arbitration clauses require consumers to settle complaints in private proceedings out of court, often in inconvenient locations and before arbitrators of the company’s choosing. The comments note that forced arbitration clauses allow corporations to “escape accountability for systemic harms” such as overbilling. The FCC’s broadband privacy rules, adopted in October 2016, did not address forced arbitration clauses, but Chairman Wheeler announced at the FCC’s October meeting that the agency had begun an internal process for rulemaking on that issue.

Consumer Coalition Defends FTC Authority Over Common Carriers

A coalition of consumer advocates challenged a recent federal court decision that would limit the Federal Trade Commission’s authority over companies engaged in “common carrier” activities. In an amicus brief filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the consumer coalition urged reconsideration of the court’s decision that the common carrier exemption to FTC authority is status-based, not activity-based. The brief warned the decision “could immunize from FTC oversight a vast swath of companies that engage in some degree in common carrier activity.” Internet companies such as Google that offer some broadband service could be entirely exempt from consumer protection

Coalition Urges Presidential Candidates to Adopt Good Government Policies

In letters to Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, a coalition of NGOs urged the presidential candidates to adopt good-government policies in the next administration. In the first letter, the coalition called on the nominees to adopt a rigorous code of ethics for their presidential transition teams. Citing then-Senator Obama’s 2008 transition code of ethics, the coalition urged the candidates to prohibit individuals with lobbying ties and financial conflicts of interest from working in the administration. A second coalition letter called on the next president to adopt stronger policies on government record keeping. The next president, wrote the coalition, “can demonstrate commitment

Consumer Coalition Tells FCC to Limit Health Care Robocalls

A coalition of consumer privacy advocates have urged the Federal Communications Commission to reject a request by health insurance companies to make unlimited health-related robocalls to consumers under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The insurance companies asked the FCC to amend the TCPA so that once a consumer provides her phone number to her doctor, she has “consented” to receiving telemarketing calls from other health care providers on anything medically related. The coalition comments, led by the National Consumer Law Center, urge the FCC to limit the scope of consumers’ consent to medical robocalls by exclude telemarketing calls and allowing