FCC Must Defend Net Neutrality Repeal In Court Against Dozens Of Litigants
Above Photo: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla. Demonstrators rally outside the Federal Communication Commission building in Washington, DC, to protest the end of net neutrality rules on December 14, 2017.
Lawsuits filed by tech firms, states, and advocates were merged into one suit.
Twelve lawsuits filed against the Federal Communications Commission over its net neutrality repeal have been consolidated into one suit that will be heard at a federal appeals court in California.
The 12 lawsuits were filed by more than three dozen entities, including state attorneys general, consumer advocacy groups, and tech companies.
Here’s a list of who filed the 12 lawsuits against the FCC:
- Mozilla Corp.
- Vimeo, Inc.
- Public Knowledge
- Open Technology Institute
- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, along with Democratic attorneys general from 21other states and the District of Columbia
- National Hispanic Media Coalition
- Benton Foundation
- Free Press
- Coalition for Internet Openness, representing tech companies Automattic, Foursquare Labs, Etsy, Expa, Kickstarter, and Shutterstock
- Etsy (filing by itself)
- California Public Utilities Commission
- County of Santa Clara, California
FCC could face more legal challenges
The lawsuits were all filed in either the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. As is standard, there was a multi-circuit lottery to determine the venue, and the Ninth Circuit court based in San Francisco was randomly selected to hear the case.
The order announcing consolidation of the cases and the venue selection was issued Thursday.
In order to participate in the multi-circuit lottery, litigants had to appeal within 10 days of the net neutrality repeal order’s publication in the Federal Register, which happened on February 22. But litigants have 60 days overall to file lawsuits, so the FCC could still face challenges from more organizations.
Organizations that don’t file lawsuits can also act as “intervenors” in order to present arguments against the FCC’s repeal. The Internet Association—a lobby group for Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, and other Web companies—has already announced plans to intervene in order to support the lawsuit against the FCC.
There’s no schedule for the consolidated lawsuit yet. The case could be decided about one year from now if it ends up following a similar timeline as when the FCC successfully defended net neutrality rules in 2016.
The FCC’s net neutrality rules apply to Internet service providers and prohibit blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. The rules are technically still on the books because the repeal is contingent on US Office of Management and Budget [OMB] approval of modified information collection requirements.