FCC Meets Resistance, Lawsuits as New Rules Become Official
> ON THE HEELS of the Federal Communications Commission’s
(FCC) decision to reclassify the Internet under Title II of its
Telecommunications Act of 1996, it was only a matter of time
before opponents officially contested it. They simply had to wait
for the appropriate time and venue. That time is now.
On April 13, 2015, the FCC published its new net-neutrality
rules for the Internet in the Federal Register. As expected, the
American Cable Association, AT&T, the CTIA—The Wireless
Association, and the National Cable and Telecommunications
Association filed lawsuits with the D.C. Court of Appeals. Of
course, these organizations weren’t the first. USTelecom and
regional service provider Alamo Broadband filed lawsuits in
March, soon after the rules were released for public review.
Meanwhile, as happens with most politically polarizing
issues, some members of congress also tried to do what they
could to block the FCC. In April, they unveiled plans to fast-track new legislation that would repeal the FCC’s rules. The
Republican contingent that supports the legislation only needs
a simple majority to pass it, but it faces an almost certain veto
from President Barack Obama, who in 2014 kick-started this
most recent FCC push with a firm show of support.
However, the FCC has been here
before. In fact, it specifically chose Title
II because it believes the classification
will give it more clout in court. In January 2014, the FCC lost a
similar lawsuit after years of attempting to pass net-neutrality
rules, and it faced this setback because of a technicality. With
Title II, the FCC rectifies that technicality and is now better
equipped to face the same opposition.
Net-neutrality has a complex history. In March, the FCC
passed new rules that would reclassify the Internet as a
common carrier, and, as such, Internet service providers would
fall under the FCC’s regulatory jurisdiction. The FCC would
then have the authority to ensure the Internet remains open for
With these lawsuits on the docket, the future of net-neutrality isn’t certain. However, when it passed the new rules
to reclassify the Internet, the FCC reached a much stronger
position in a battle it has been fighting for decades. It will likely
be years before these lawsuits are officially resolved, and they
could go as high as the Supreme Court.