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Post Net Neutrality, States, Companies Line Up to Sue FCC

18 Dec, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

States and private companies are preparing to sue the Federal Communications Commission following its Dec. 14 repeal of net neutrality provisions regulating the Internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

Led by chairman Ajit Pai (who was appointed to the board by President Obama, and made chairman by President Trump), the FCC voted 3-2 for a softer regulatory approach under Title I of the Communications Act — which does away with provisions implemented in 2015 intended to curb blocking, throttling and prioritization of streaming services.

Now, 17 states and companies such as Netflix reportedly are preparing lawsuits to halt the repeal.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who said he would lead a multistate lawsuit, says the repeal is a gift to Internet service providers (ISPs).

“The rollback will give ISPs new ways to control what we see, what we do, and what we say online,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “That’s a threat to the free exchange of ideas that’s made the Internet a valuable asset in our democratic process.”

The AG is also investigating claims that more than 2 million public comments submitted to the FCC prior to the vote were fake.

Washington AG Bob Ferguson said enabling ISPs to “discriminate based on content” undermines a free and open Internet.

"We are 5-0 against the Trump Administration because they often fail to follow the law when taking executive action. There is a strong legal argument that with this action, the federal government violated the Administrative Procedure Act — again,” said Ferguson.

Meanwhile, streaming video behemoth Netflix called the FCC’s decision “misguided,” contending the decision would produce endless litigation.

“We’re disappointed in the decision to gut [net neutrality] protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity and civic engagement,” Netflix tweeted Dec. 14. “This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/innovators, large and small, to oppose this misguided FCC order.”

Separately, California lawmaker Scott Wiener (D-CA) announced plans to introduce a bill mandating net neutrality in the Golden State.

The lawmaker said he is working with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU and other civil liberty organizations to create legislation over the next 60 days.

“If the FCC won’t stand up for a free and open Internet, California will,” Wiener said.

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