A Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission wants multiple investigations into Netflix because of the online video provider’s admission that it throttles its video streams on mobile networks.
The FCC, the Federal Trade Commission, and Congress should all investigate, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said in a speech today in front of the American Action Forum, a policy research institute. O’Rielly is not impressed by Netflix’s argument that it only reduces video quality to help its customers stay under mobile data caps.
“Netflix has attempted to paint a picture of altruism whereby it virtuously sought to save these consumers from bumping up against or exceeding their data caps,” O’Rielly said. “There is no way to sugarcoat it: the news is deeply disturbing and justly generates calls for government—and maybe even Congressional—investigation.”
O’Rielly went on to say that “the Federal Trade Commission may have grounds to scrutinize Netflix’s video throttling.” O’Rielly—who voted against the FCC’s net neutrality order in a 3-2 party-line vote—conceded that Netflix did not violate the net neutrality rule against throttling. That’s because the rules only apply to Internet service providers and mobile carriers.
But he claimed that Netflix may have violated FCC rules when it did not mention its throttling in filings in which the company supported net neutrality rules.
“A company cannot knowingly make misrepresentations and inaccurate statements before the Commission,” O’Rielly said. “In fact, doing so violates Commission rules intended to protect the integrity of the Commission and our decisions. We need to closely examine filings that were made for potential violations in light of this new information. It appears that Netflix made accusations of wrongdoing by ISPs, all the while knowing that its own practices were one of the causes of consumer video downgrading.”