Legal Responses May Be Imminent in Net Neutrality Face-off

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 13, 2015

Back in March, the FCC's 400-page net neutrality order arrived, and made waves because of the agency's vote to reclassify broadband as a regulated telecommunications service. The FCC argued that it created "clear and enforceable rules" to protect consumers, but broadband providers and others bristled at the regulation proposals.

Over this past weekend, the net neutrality rule was published in the Federal Register, the daily journal of U.S. government initiatives, and legal action from those opposing it could be imminent.

You can find the specific proposals in the Federal Register.  Among them, there is this:

"We simultaneously exercise the Commission's forbearance authority to forbear from 30 statutory provisions and render over 700 codified rules inapplicable, to establish a light-touch regulatory framework tailored to preserving those provisions that advance our goals of more, better, and open broadband."

"Section 254 promotes the deployment and availability of communications networks to all Americans, including rural and low-income Americans—furthering our goals of more and better broadband."

As Computerworld notes:

"Before the regulation can go into effect, a final rule must first be published in the Federal Register. The new rule, referred to as the Open Internet Order, has Monday as the effective publication date and goes into effect on June 12. The FCC said in March, when it released the order, that it would become effective 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register."

So what happens next? Most broadband providers have embraced the general principles of net neutrality but many oppose the specific terms of the order. Some of the opposing providers will likely take legal actions in the days to come. 

 Reuters reported that some consortiums representing Internet service providers "are expected to take the lead in suing the Federal Communications Commission" over its new net neutrality rules.

 According to PC World:

"The net neutrality regulations contain so-called bright-line rules prohibiting broadband providers from selectively blocking or throttling legal Web traffic and from charging Web-based services from paying for prioritized traffic, but the future conduct standard gives the FCC the authority to prohibit other practices going forward."

There is going to be continuing argument about the FCC provisions. And, notably the provisions do impose the same rules on mobile broadband services as on fixed broadband, so the FCC provisions promise to be very impactful. OStatic will report further on reactions and any related legal filings.