Net Neutrality Rules Could Be Headed For A Supreme Court Showdown

Senate Republicans have introduced a bill to permanently repeal net neutrality rules enacted during the Obama administration, one week after the Federal Communications Commission unveiled a plan to do the same.

"It is really interesting to see them co-opting of the term net neutrality", said Candace Clement, campaign director at Free Press, an advocacy group that counts the protection of net neutrality among its core causes.

Meanwhile FCC Chairman Pai says he will reveal the details of his plan in the next few weeks and it could be voted on shortly after.

In a statement Monday, Pai said the court's decision was "not surprising".

Two years ago when the FCC passed its net neutrality rules, it said in order to enforce these rules, we need to reclassify ISP's as public utilities.

Meanwhile, more than 800 USA online start-ups signed a letter to Pai stressing the importance of a free and open internet. Ted Cruz, who famously dubbed net neutrality "Obamacare for the internet", a claim he doubled down on Monday. Not only do they prohibit providers from blocking access to particular sites or services but they also bar them from slowing access to such sites and services. "They are supposed to establish a public record", Schatz said. Open internet advocates state these rules keep major internet providers from manipulating internet traffic by staggering internet speeds and users to their whims for monetary gain or industry monopolization.

When agencies such as the FCC pose questions like that, they're attempting to lay the foundation for a potential policy shift.

"The D.C. Circuit has once again confirmed that the FCC's Open Internet rules are lawful and supported by the evidence", Public Knowledge senior counsel John Bergmayer said. "It leans so heavily toward no rules at all". The rules ban your home broadband provider from degrading your Netflix streams, for example, to encourage you to buy cable television instead. In the future, though, if the proposal moves in the direction Pai is forecasting, providers would have the right to block women from accessing Planned Parenthood's website, say, or conservative groups from visiting Ann Coulter's website. What's more important is making clear to people the direct stake they have in this issue.

The FCC has not proposed any explicit net neutrality rules, under any legal footing.

Part of the new net neutrality laws involved reclassifying internet providers as "common carriers" which put them on a par with other telecoms service providers.

If Pai's proposal was shocking, his justifications for it ranged from the misleading to the flat-out false.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has denied a petition to rehear a case that upheld the legality of the net neutrality rules put in place by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) previous year.

There's so much wrong with this argument that's hard to know where to start.

What net neutrality proponents should take away from this analysis is that their conventional wisdom assumption - that their FCC Open Internet order and upholding precedent are likely to be lasting - is a very risky assumption.

Craig Aaron, president and CEO of the Free Press Action Fund, said at the time: "We expect this bill to meet a fate similar to that of other failed congressional efforts to undermine the open Internet". Instead, they exclusively govern the behavior or the companies that provide the on-ramps to the internet, the broadband providers.

  • Carolyn Briggs