Date
17 August 2018
A demonstrator opposed to the rollback of net neutrality rules holds a sign outside the US Federal Communications Commission's headquarters in Washington DC, in this picture from Dec. 14. Credit:  Bloomberg
A demonstrator opposed to the rollback of net neutrality rules holds a sign outside the US Federal Communications Commission's headquarters in Washington DC, in this picture from Dec. 14. Credit: Bloomberg

US states file lawsuit in bid to keep net neutrality

A group of 21 state attorneys general in the United States filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to challenge the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to do away with net neutrality, Reuters reports.

The state attorneys, including those of California, New York and Virginia, filed a petition to challenge the repeal of net neutrality rules, calling the decision “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion” and saying that it violates federal laws and regulations.

The petition was filed with a federal appeals court in Washington as Senate Democrats said on Tuesday they had the backing of 50 members of the 100-person chamber for repeal, leaving them just one vote short of a majority.

Even if Democrats can win a majority in the Senate, a repeal will also require winning a vote in the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a greater majority, and would still be subject to a likely veto by President Donald Trump, Reuters noted.

Trump backed the FCC action, the White House said last month, and overturning a presidential veto requires a two-thirds vote of both chambers.

States said the lawsuit was filed in an abundance of caution because, typically, a petition to challenge would not be filed until the rules legally take effect, which is expected later this year.

Internet advocacy group Free Press, the Open Technology Institute and Mozilla Corp filed similar protective petitions on Tuesday.

The FCC voted in December along party lines to reverse rules introduced in 2015 that barred internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic or offering paid fast lanes, also known as paid prioritization.

The new rules will not take effect for at least three months, the FCC has said.

A trade group representing major tech companies including Facebook, Alphabet and Amazon said it will support legal challenges to the reversal.

The FCC vote in December marked a victory for AT&T, Comcast and Verizon and handed them power over what content consumers can access on the internet. 

While the FCC order grants internet providers sweeping new powers it does require public disclosure of any blocking practices. 

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RC

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