First lawsuits against FCC’s new rules on net neutrality
Following the approval of net neutrality rules by U.S regulator FCC, industry group US Telecom and regional service provider Alamo Broadband have filed “protective petitions for review” (cf. US Telecom’s filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia).
In a press statement, US Telecom states that this is a “precautionary move to preserve procedural rights in challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s open Internet order”. US Telecom deems that the new rules are not “legally sustainable” and that broadband should not at all be regulated under title II of the US Communications Act.
In a landmark decision of the beginning of this month the FCC had approved strong net neutrality rules proposed by chairman Tom Wheeler in a vote of 3-2 along party lines. The set of new open internet rules regulating broadband internet as a public utility comes after months of heated debate. The two Republican FCC commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Reilly, dissenting as expected, accused President Obama of having an improper influence on the FCC’s decision making. After two decades of bipartisan consensus on a lighter regulation of broadband services as “information services” the FCC aims to reclassify Internet Service providers as common carriers under title II. President Obama, who indeed had urged the FCC to vote on title II regulation, welcomed the decision stating it would protect innovation and create a level playing field for the next generation.
This week’s filings are not much of a surprise. Shortly after the FCC decision, telecoms and cable companies claimed that utility-specific regulation under title II was antiquated and announced legal action. The US Telecom and Alamo Broadband can build on a successful precedent. Verizon had stopped the last FCC approach in a lawsuit in 2014 arguing that the rules imposed unfair regulations against broadband companies.
According technology news network “The Verge”, the FCC is confident that the petitions for review will be dismissed. “We believe that the petitions for review filed today are premature and subject to dismissal”, a FCC official said.
Any questions? Please contact: Dr. Tobias Frevert or Pascal Schumacher
Practice Group: Telecommunications