Net Neutrality: Trade Group Led By AT&T & Verizon Sues FCC
The Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality rules haven’t taken effect yet, but they’re already facing lawsuits from Internet service providers.
One such lawsuit was filed today by USTelecom, which is led by AT&T, Verizon, and others. Another lawsuit was filed by a small Internet service provider in Texas called Alamo Broadband. (The Washington Post flagged the lawsuits.)
Internet providers are now common carriers, and they’re ready to sue.
The net neutrality order, which reclassifies broadband providers as common carriers and imposes rules against blocking and discriminating against online content, “is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion,” USTelecom alleged in its petition to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The order “violates federal law, including, but not limited to, the Constitution, the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and FCC regulations promulgated thereunder.” The order also violates notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements, the petition said.
The petitions don’t go into any more detail on the Internet service providers’ arguments. The timing is an issue; the FCC’s rules haven’t been published in the Federal Register and do not go into effect until 60 days after publication. USTelecom’s suit says it “is filing this protective petition for review out of an abundance of caution… in case the FCC’s Order (or the Declaratory Ruling part of that Order) is construed to be final on the date it was issued (as opposed to after Federal Register publication, which USTelecom believes is the better view).”
Parties have ten days to file lawsuits from whichever date of publication ends up being the significant one. The full order was posted on the FCC’s website on March 12.
The DC Circuit threw out similarly early appeals from Verizon and MetroPCS to the FCC’s first net neutrality order back in April 2011, calling them premature. Verizon ultimately filed after the correct date and won, forcing the FCC to start over.
“We believe that the petitions for review filed today are premature and subject to dismissal,” an FCC spokesperson told Ars.
Lawsuits are also likely to be filed by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and CTIA-The Wireless Association, the major trade groups representing cable and wireless operators. Trade groups, rather than individual Internet providers, are expected to lead the fight against the FCC this time around.