The FTC: Cyber Security Savior or Data Dictator?

Author: Leanthony Edwards Jr., Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

Throughout the past few years, data privacy and cybersecurity have become hot topics within the U.S. legal system and the media. Last year, prominent U.S. corporations like Sony and Home Depot suffered major data breaches that caused significant financial and reputational harm for both the companies and consumers. In response to the increase in massive data breaches, President Obama featured cyber security issues prominently in the State of the Union address.[1] Although getting data security on the national agenda was an important breakthrough, the U.S. may suffer in the near future as a result of Congress’s failure to allocate appropriate resources toward devising a legitimate data security strategy. With dubious legislative authority, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ordained itself the regulatory authority responsible for policing data security policies within the United States. This article highlights two lawsuits brought by the FTC that depict this most recent power grab and illustrate why the FTC’s assumption of this data security role is troublesome.

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Phone Frustration: FTC Files Suit against AT&T for Deliberately Slowing Phone Speeds of “Unlimited” Plan Users

Author: Ashley Clever, Contributing Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

Frustration with technology often causes one to wonder if there is an electronic conspiracy raging war against technology users. Usually these thoughts are ridiculous, fabricated only by an overly-unreliable copy machine that seems to always jam minutes before an important deadline or by an iPhone that works perfectly until the day the newest version is released and then mysteriously begins to freeze, making the owner want to upgrade. But some worries about an elaborate electronic conspiracy might actually be well-founded, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently filed a complaint against AT&T Mobility Company (AT&T) for reducing the data speeds of users who had an “unlimited” phone plan.[1]

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Will Aereo Kill the TV Star?

Author: Matthew Byrnes, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

In late April, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case that has the potential to drastically change how Americans watch broadcast programming. The case, American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., (“Aereo”) involves the online television subscription service Aereo.[i] Founded in 2012, Aereo allows its users to view or record local network broadcasts on their computer or web-enabled devices starting at $8 a month, plus tax.[ii] Unlike a cable television provider however, Aereo does not pay licensing fees to carry these over-the-air transmissions. Broadcasters fear this will undercut more than $3 billion in annual revenues that they receive from retransmission fees.[iii] In light of the “cut-the-cord” trend, this fear is warranted. If Aereo’s business model is upheld amidst copyright infringement claims, it will rock the traditional cable provider structure. However, when looking to the history of the Copyright Act and its treatment of the broadcasting industry, the Supreme Court is right to pull the plug on Aereo’s system unless it starts paying royalties.

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