FCC’s net neutrality revision challenged by 22 states

FCC
A group of 22 state attorneys general are suing the FCC over the regulator's move to repeal the 2015 rules. (Image: FCC)

A group of 22 states has filed an appeal against the FCC’s recent move to realign the 2015 net neutrality rules that regulated broadband internet access service under Title II of the Communications Act. The regulator will reclassify ISPs as information providers under Title I.

This coalition of state attorneys general, which was spearheaded by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, saying the FCC's decision to roll back the rules passed under the previous administration was "illegal.”

"The repeal of net neutrality would turn internet service providers into gatekeepers—allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do, and what we say online," said Schneiderman.

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RELATED: New York AG Schneiderman to lead multistate lawsuit challenging net neutrality rollback

Led by Schneiderman, the suit includes the AGs of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

Under the Administrative Procedure Act, the group of attorneys general claims that the FCC cannot make "arbitrary and capricious" changes to existing policies such as net neutrality. The group said in a joint statement that the FCC’s new rule fails to justify the Commission’s departure from its longstanding policy and practice of defending net neutrality, while misinterpreting and disregarding critical record evidence on industry practices and harm to consumers and businesses.

Additionally, the group is challenging the FCC's reclassification of broadband internet as a Title I information service, rather than a Title II telecommunications service, calling this move "an erroneous and unreasonable interpretation of the Telecommunications Act.” Finally, the rule "improperly and unlawfully includes sweeping preemption of state and local laws."

Mozilla and NGO Public Knowledge have also filed separate suits against the FCC in the D.C. court.

Although the full version of the FCC's new neutrality order has not yet been published in the Federal Register, the groups said they were filing early to ensure their cases are recognized by the appropriate court.  

These lawsuits are just one of several efforts being taken to keep the 2015 net neutrality rules in place.

The Congressional Review Act, which has been spearheaded by Democrats, has attracted 50 Supporters, including all 49 Democrats and Susan Collins, R-Maine. The measure to overturn the FCC's unpopular repeal of net neutrality now needs just one more vote to pass the Senate and move to the House. A similar effort initiated in the House has the support of 80 members.

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