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Eshoo, Pelosi, Members Demand Investigation into Verizon Throttling of Santa Clara County Fire Department’s Data

August 24th, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) sent a letter with 11 Northern California Members to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) demanding an investigation into whether Verizon’s throttling of the ‘unlimited’ data plan of the Santa Clara County Fire Department were ‘unfair or deceptive,’ pursuant to Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

According to a Declaration to the D.C. Circuit, County Fire contracted with Verizon for an ‘unlimited’ data plan but experienced heavy throttling when they had reached their ‘cap’. These reduced speeds severely undermined department personnel’s ability to respond to the Mendocino Complex Fire, the largest wildfire in the history of California. When the County department contacted Verizon directly about the reduced speeds and asked them to restore speeds to essential transfer speed, they were told that County Fire would have to switch to a new data plan at more than twice the cost.

“It is unacceptable for communications providers to deceive their customers, but when the consumer in question is a government entity tasked with fire and emergency services, we can’t afford to wait a moment longer,” the Members wrote. “The FTC must investigate whether Verizon and other communications companies are being unfair or deceptive in the services they’re offering to public safety entities, and if so, to determine what remedies are appropriate to ensure our first responders have adequate service when lives are on the line.”

“Unfortunately, with its repeal of the 2015 Open Internet Order, the FCC has abdicated its jurisdiction over broadband communications and walked away from protecting consumers, including public safety agencies,” the Members continued. “We, therefore, call on the FTC to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive acts or practices stemming from this incident.”

The letter was also signed by Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), John Garamendi (CA-3), Jared Huffman (CA-2), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Doris Matsui (CA-6), Jerry McNerney (CA-9), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Jackie Speier (CA-14), and Mike Thompson (CA-5).

The text of the letter can be found here.

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