FCC facing first lawsuits over ‘net neutrality’ News
FCC facing first lawsuits over ‘net neutrality’

[JURIST] The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] faced its first challenges to its new Open Internet (net neutrality) [FCC backgrounder] Monday. USTelecom, an industry trade group, and Alamo Broadband [complaints, PDF], a Texas-based internet provider filed suit in Washington and New Orleans, respectively. According to the FCC, the basis of net neutrality is to “protect free expression and innovation on the Internet and promote investment in the nation’s broadband networks.” In doing so, the rules have prohibited “blocking,” “throttling,” and “paid prioritization,” thus “regulat[ing] broadband Internet access service.” Alamo argues that the new rules are “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act” [text] and are contrary to “constitutional right” as well as controlling law.

Net neutrality has emerged as a major political issue in the US and internationally. In November US President Barack Obama said [statement] that he strongly supports the concept of net neutrality. In May the FCC adopted [JURIST report] new Internet traffic rules in light of a recent court decision [opinion, PDF] that struck down former rules requiring broadband providers to employ nondiscriminatory practices in the treatment of Internet content. In April the European Parliament approved [JURIST report] a net neutrality proposal that prohibits Internet service providers from enhancing or restricting services for selected Internet traffic. The proposed law, approved by a 534-25 vote with 58 abstentions, aims to treat all Internet traffic equally by making it illegal to block, slow down or give preferential treatment to certain specific applications and services for economic or other reasons. Last February the FCC announced it would not appeal [JURIST report] the court ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that struck down net neutrality.