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.