It is now official: the FCC can finally get sued for its net neutrality rules. The Federal Communications Commission published the Net Neutrality law in the Federal Register on Monday, opening the season of lawsuits that internet broadcasters promised.
After being published in the federal government’s official journal, the net neutrality rules enter a 60-day period during which they can be attacked in a court of law before becoming official. And if the angered internet providers keep their word, the lawsuits are expected to start flowing.
The FCC approved the regulatory measures in February and announced them publicly the next month. Since then, the commission has been under intense pressure from both the Congress and service providers, who argued the measures are illegal and the FCC went well beyond its jurisdiction.
USTelecom, a telecommunications company, was one of the first to file a suit against the federal regulator on Monday. USTelecom labeled the FCC package as “arbitrary” and “capricious,” although they tried to make a distinction between net neutrality and the federal body’s authority on the matter. According to company officials, their “appeal is not focused on challenging the objectives, but instead the unjustifiable shift by the FCC backward to common carrier regulation.” Polite words, but essentially what they want is the same thing all net neutrality critics desire: a repeal of the law.
Other Internet service giants, like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are expected to file lawsuits in the coming weeks. According to their views, the reclassification of broadband under Title II of the Communications Act will have an overall negative effect on the business more than the Net Neutrality rules per se. The reclassification, they argue, will allow FCC to set its own rates and tariffs, and this could on the long term affect consumers by increasing the cost of the services.
When the law was announced in March, most tech companies, such as Google, praised the FCC arguing that the regulations will force internet providers to become more competitive and consumers will benefit a lot. While the Congress also brought FCC some moderate praises initially, the Republican leadership quickly rallied against the law, backed by – or, depending on the point of view, backing – the big internet providers.
Republican Doug Collins released a Congress resolution right after Net Neutrality was published in the Federal Registry, in an apparent coordinated attack between internet providers and the Congress against the FCC. The resolution is pretty straightforward, demanding that the set of rules “should have no force or effect.”
Most specialists expect, however, that the resolution will not pass, as there is not support in the Senate for a repeal of Net Neutrality. The FCC also enjoyed consistent support from president Obama, and it is expected that even if the resolution will get on his desk, he’ll simply veto it.
The federal regulatory body expected such opposition from the moment the law was announced, but its members are confident in the success of the measures. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has repeatedly vouched in the past for the regulations, saying they will hold in court of law. Now, when the lawsuit season is on, his lawyers have come to back him up. Gigi Sohn, an attorney representing the FCC, looked very confident and said he and his client are prepared for the suits.
Image Source: PC World
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