Telecom, Cable Industries File Emergency Motion to Kill Net Neutrality Decision

They want a federal court to block the rules before they go into effect June 12.

National Journal
May 13, 2015, 10:22 a.m.

All of the ma­jor tele­com and cable in­dustry groups filed an emer­gency mo­tion Wed­nes­day, ask­ing a fed­er­al court to block the core of net neut­ral­ity reg­u­la­tions.

The rules, which the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion ap­proved in Feb­ru­ary, threaten bil­lions of dol­lars in in­vest­ments with un­jus­ti­fied, util­ity-style reg­u­la­tions, the groups wrote in their fil­ing to the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the D.C. Cir­cuit.

They asked the court to block the rules be­fore they go in­to ef­fect June 12. Or at least, the groups wrote, the court should fast-track their law­suits to get a de­cision as quickly as pos­sible.

The mo­tion was filed by the U.S. Tele­com As­so­ci­ation, the Na­tion­al Cable and Tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions As­so­ci­ation, CTIA-the Wire­less As­so­ci­ation, AT&T, the Amer­ic­an Cable As­so­ci­ation, Cen­turyLink, and the Wire­less In­ter­net Ser­vice Pro­viders As­so­ci­ation.

The In­ter­net pro­viders claimed that the FCC “has ar­rog­ated to it­self breath­tak­ing au­thor­ity over the most trans­form­at­ive tech­no­logy in liv­ing memory.”

Their law­suits, they wrote, “thus present some of the most con­sequen­tial ques­tions this Court is likely to en­counter re­gard­ing tech­no­logy, the fu­ture of the eco­nomy, and the bound­ar­ies of ad­min­is­trat­ive law.”

They claimed that if the court fails to act now, they will suf­fer “im­mense bur­dens and costs” that will be im­possible to undo once the rules take ef­fect. 

“We are con­fid­ent that the court will deny the re­quest for a stay,” Kim Hart, an FCC spokes­man, said. “The Open In­ter­net Or­der provides clear and de­fens­ible rules of the road that will en­sure en­force­able pro­tec­tions for con­sumers and in­nov­at­ors on­line.”

The FCC’s net neut­ral­ity rules bar In­ter­net pro­viders from block­ing web­sites, se­lect­ively slow­ing down traffic, or cre­at­ing “fast lanes” for sites that pay. Sup­port­ers of the rules ar­gue they are ne­ces­sary to keep In­ter­net pro­viders from act­ing as gate­keep­ers and con­trolling what people can ac­cess on­line.

The FCC first en­acted net neut­ral­ity rules in 2010, but the D.C. Cir­cuit struck them down in early 2014. In at­tempt to bol­ster the chances of the new rules in court, the FCC dra­mat­ic­ally ex­pan­ded its own reg­u­lat­ory au­thor­ity. The new rules clas­si­fy In­ter­net ser­vice un­der the same reg­u­lat­ory re­gime as tele­phones.

In their fil­ing, the groups ar­gued that Con­gress nev­er in­ten­ded to sub­ject In­ter­net ser­vice to such a bur­den­some reg­u­lat­ory clas­si­fic­a­tion. The com­mis­sion’s de­cision also vi­ol­ates rules for agency pro­ced­ures, they claimed. 

The In­ter­net pro­viders are only ask­ing the court to block the new reg­u­lat­ory clas­si­fic­a­tion for In­ter­net ser­vice. The rules them­selves, they said, could stay in ef­fect as their law­suits move for­ward.

—This art­icle was up­dated with a com­ment from the FCC. 

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