Teleco challenges Net neutrality rules

Verizon is posing a legal challenge to the FCC’s authority to issue Net neutrality rules, which the agency passed last month as a way to preserve open access to the Internet.

The telecommunications company filed an appeal of the FCC’s order on Thursday in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, a move that was not totally unexpected. Of all Internet providers, it had perhaps been the most critical of the new measure while other companies were resigned to it or expressed a desire to move on with more regulatory certainty.

Michael E. Glover, Verizon’s senior vice president and deputy general counsel, said they are “deeply concerned by the FCC’s assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the Internet itself. We believe this assertion of authority goes well beyond any authority provided by Congress, and creates uncertainty for the communications industry, innovators, investors and consumers.”

The FCC’s rules bar Internet providers from blocking lawful content and from “unreasonably” discriminating in the way that they transmit traffic, but leave flexiblity for wireless providers as businesses develop.

The rules that the FCC passed came after months of efforts to reach a compromise — and, ironically enough, bear similarities to a proposal that Verizon and Google advanced earlier in the year as a way of settling the issue. But that Google-Verizon proposal was clear that it should be Congress, not the FCC, that wrote the rules.

The FCC had no immediate comment.

But some public interest groups condemned Verizon’s move.

Harold Feld, legal director for Public Knowledge, said Verizon is “trying to be too cute” by seeking the same judges who delivered Comcast a victory in April in its suit against the FCC last year, putting its authority to pass Net neutrality rules in doubt. The agency said last month that its new rules were passed on a more solid legal footing.

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