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Lawsuits Try Stopping FCC From Killing Open Internet

Above Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

As Democrats in the Senate work to push forward a resolution that would stop the Federal Communications Commission from killing net neutrality and ending the open and free internet for everyone, multiple lawsuits were filed Tuesday by different groups with that same goal in mind.

A group of attorneys general from 21 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block the FCC’s new rules from going into effect, the Associated Press reports.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that the FCC made “arbitrary and capricious” changes to existing policies and was unjustified in departing from the FCC’s long-standing policy of defending net neutrality.

Schneiderman was joined in the lawsuit by the attorneys general representing California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia.

Like the Democrats working on the Senate resolution, those filing the lawsuits will likely face an uphill battle in their attempt to stop the FCC.

David Balto, an antitrust lawyer, told AP that courts tend to side with the decisions of regulating agencies as long as they can provide an adequate explanation. A court is likely to determine that the FCC has the authority to change the rules now, just as the President Barack Obama-era FCC did in 2015.

New America’s Open Technology Institute filed a protective petition for review with the D.C. Circuit. Sarah J. Morris, director of open-internet policy at the institute, released the following statement:

Today’s petitions are but one part of our commitment to protecting net neutrality. We have supported, and will continue to support, a CRA resolution in Congress to overturn the FCC’s repeal, which is gaining momentum by the day. But there are also important legal issues to address, from the rushed and procedurally deficient proceeding, to the misguided move to unravel the Title II underpinning of the order and the strong net neutrality rules, to preempting states and localities from protecting net neutrality. OTI will be on the front lines of these coming legal battles.

Mozilla, creator of the Firefox web browser, also filed a lawsuit against the FCC on Tuesday. The company said on its website:

As we have said many times over the years, we’ll keep fighting for the open internet to ensure everyone has access to the entire internet and do everything in our power to protect net neutrality. In addition to our court challenge, we are also taking steps to ask Congress and the courts to fix the broken policies.

Public-interest group Free Press announced its lawsuit on its website, addressing the FCC’s chairman: “Ajit Pai: We’ll see you in court.”

Of course, legislation isn’t the only way to fix what the FCC did. On Tuesday, Free Press filed one of the very first lawsuits aimed at overturning the agency’s Net Neutrality repeal.

We’ll be teaming up with experienced Supreme Court lawyers and our allies at New America’s Open Technology Institute and Public Knowledge as the litigation progresses, while coordinating our efforts with other challengers, including 22 state attorneys general led by New York’s Eric Schneiderman and internet companies like Mozilla.

Tuesday’s filing was a preliminary strike to ensure that public-interest groups have a say in where the case is heard. Much is still in play as to when and where the case will go, but Free Press will be leading the charge.

We’ve seen how effective courts can be in slowing or stopping Trump-era attacks, and we have a winning record to build on in defending Net Neutrality in court.

All of this action in court, coupled with the action in Congress, is likely to get someone’s attention, right?

Is anyone in government interested in listening to the will of the American people?


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