SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The 9th Circuit dismissed a class action accusing Time Warner Cable of violating federal laws prohibiting racketeering and “slamming” – the practice of switching consumers’ telephone service without their consent. It turned the dispute over to the Federal Communications Commission to resolve the issues presented by digital phone technology.
The district court said the federal anti-slamming law applies only to “telecommunications carriers,” and referred the case to the FCC to determine whether the cable company, which uses voice-over-Internet-protocol technology, qualifies as a carrier under the law. The lower court then dismissed the complaint without prejudice to let the FCC examine how the law applies to VoIP technology.
Affirming the lower court’s decision, the federal appeals court agreed that the FCC was the right venue to address legal issues involving new technology.
“Congress has specifically delegated responsibility to the FCC to define ‘slamming’ violations, and to prescribe the procedures for imposing the appropriate penalties,” Judge O’Scannlain wrote.