Sole FTC Republican to Resign, Faster Decisions from Meta Oversight Board, High Variance in 5G Performance

Wilson accused Chairwoman Lina Khan of defying legal precedent and abusing her power.

Sole FTC Republican to Resign, Faster Decisions from Meta Oversight Board, High Variance in 5G Performance
Photo of Christine Wilson in 2019 by Paul Morigi/Brookings Institution, used with permission

February 15, 2023 — Federal Trade Commissioner Christine Wilson on Tuesday announced her intention to resign from the agency, protesting Chairwoman Lina Khan’s progressive antitrust agenda.

“My fundamental concern with her leadership of the commission pertains to her willful disregard of congressionally-imposed limits on agency jurisdiction, her defiance of legal precedent, and her abuse of power to achieve desired outcomes,” Wilson wrote in an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal.

Wilson’s departure will leave the FTC with a second Republican vacancy, following the October exit of Noah Phillips, who cited a lack of discussion and compromise as one of the reasons for his resignation.

To illustrate her concerns, Wilson highlighted the FTC’s recent challenge to Meta’s acquisition of Within. Although the challenge proved unsuccessful, Wilson argued that Khan should have recused herself, noting that she authored a report as a Congressional staffer saying Meta should be blocked from future acquisitions.

Wilson also objected to an antitrust enforcement policy statement issued by the FTC in November, claiming that it gave the agency a vague and overly-broad scope by failing to clearly define terms such as “coercive,” “exploitative,” “abusive” and “restrictive.”

The three remaining Democratic commissioners — Khan, Rebecca Slaughter and Alvaro Bedoya — acknowledged Wilson’s announcement in a brief statement that did not respond to her critiques. “While we often disagreed with Commissioner Wilson, we respect her devotion to her beliefs and are grateful for her public service,” they wrote.

Wilson has not yet given a date for her departure.

Meta’s Oversight Board to review more cases and issue expedited decisions

Meta’s Oversight Board on Tuesday announced a new expedited review process that will enable the body to review more cases, marking a shift from its standard 90-day decision time frame.

The Oversight Board — an independent entity that reviews a small number of Facebook’s and Instagram’s most significant content moderation decisions — wrote in a blog post that increasing the quantity and speed of its decisions will allow it to “tackle more of the big challenges of content moderation, and respond more quickly in situations with urgent real-world consequences.”

Expedited decisions will be published in as little as 48 hours, with a maximum target time frame of 30 days. The decisions will be binding, and will forgo the 14-day public comment period typically included in the standard review process.

The Oversight Board also announced that it would begin to publish “summary decisions” examining cases in which Meta reverses its original verdict, usually resulting in the restoration of previously removed content.

In addition to helping Meta avoid similar mistakes in the future, publishing details about the original errors may benefit researchers and civil society groups, the board wrote.

Ookla data shows significant variance in 5G network performance

Despite heavily promoted maximum speeds, in-market 5G performance varies widely and in many areas is actually declining, according to data published Wednesday by Ookla.

Of the 16 countries included in the report, all but three displayed a decrease in median 5G download speeds over the past year. The most significant outlier was the United States, which Ookla attributed to the successes of T-Mobile and Verizon.

However, the U.S. was near the bottom of the list in terms of overall 5G performance, with the lowest 10 percent of sample data falling below 20 Megabits per second download.

“Based on many of the marketing messages around 5G, consumers are led to expect a big bang change in performance,” wrote Mark Giles, Ookla’s lead industry analyst. “However, with 5G operating over a greater range of spectrum bands than previous generations, including high frequency spectrum which has relatively poorer propagation, it’s understandable that 5G performance will vary more than previous generations of mobile network technology.”

The report also noted that many 5G network operators are facing new coverage challenges as they expand beyond a predominantly urban user base to include more suburban and rural areas.

Ookla is a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast.

Popular Tags