Net Neutrality Court Battle Advances

The legal battle to halt the FCC’s most recent “Open Internet” order advanced in recent weeks with the filing of briefs before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In particular, the petitioners’ brief takes aim at the reclassification of broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. The USTelecom Association, the lead petitioner, stated that the FCC “order represents an unprecedented transfer of regulatory power to the FCC without a clear warrant from Congress.” Moreover, USTelecom highlighted the procedural problem with the FCC’s deliberations on this order and declared, “The order is not a culmination of a thoughtful and deliberative process, but one put together in haste and influenced by politics.” USTelecom has been joined by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, CTIA – The Wireless Association, the American Cable Association, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, AT&T, and CenturyLink in this suit.

Meanwhile, the Internet Association, which includes Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Netflix, has announced that it will file an amicus brief on the side of the FCC. Michael Beckerman, President & CEO of the Internet Association, declared a need for “strong, enforceable, and legally sustainable net neutrality rules.”

NRB opposed the partisan FCC vote imposing new heavy-handed regulations on the Internet. In February, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, stated, “Bigger government is not fertile ground for the flourishing of free speech and innovation. This is a power grab, and NRB opposes it.”  Likewise, the NRB Board of Directors that same week unanimously approved a Resolution opposed to such a move by the Commission, and particularly worried that such action could “send a poor signal to nations that have or are considering more state governance of the Internet” and may encourage “repressive regimes that would like an international body such as the International Telecommunications Union of the United Nations to have increased authority over the Internet.”

The FCC net neutrality order went into effect on June 12. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments on December 4 for this legal challenge.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: August 21, 2015

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