13 April 2015

FCC Publishes Net Neutrality Rules, Lawsuit Filed Immediately

This is not a surprise.

The two most common types of broadband providers in the United States, telcos and cable companies, have predicated their business models on monopoly power and the extraction of rents.

Net neutrality closes off a potential sources of rent, hence the lawsuit:
While the Federal Communications Commission passed its net neutrality rules on February 26, they weren't published in the Federal Register until today.

The publication means a couple of things: the rules go into effect 60 days from today, and parties that oppose the rules have 10 days to file lawsuits against the FCC. Almost immediately after publication, a trade group representing ISPs called USTelecom filed suit in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

USTelecom's petition said the FCC's ruling is "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion" and "violates federal law, including, but not limited to, the Constitution, the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and FCC regulations promulgated thereunder."

You may recall that this same group sued the FCC over the net neutrality rules last month. That was done just in case the 10-day deadline could be applied after the rules were posted to the FCC's website, which happened before publication to the Federal Register. In either case, the initial challenge is mostly a procedural matter; detailed briefs laying out a legal argument against the FCC's rules will probably come this summer.
Thankfully, the DC Court of Appeals, (technically the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit), the most likely venue for a suit, has become significantly less right wing with recent judicial appointments.

I expect this to end up at the Supreme Court though.


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