Netflix, Dish Urge Court to Uphold FCC’s Net Neutrality Action

Tom Wheeler FCC
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Netflix and Dish Network are among the almost two dozen companies and public interest groups urging a federal appellate court to deny an effort to halt a central component of the FCC’s net neutrality rules before they go into effect on June 12.

Cogent Communications, COMPTEL, Level 3 Communications, Tumblr, Vimeo, Union Square Ventures, Etsy and Kickstarter also are among the entities that filed a motion with the D.C. Circuit in support of the new rules and the FCC’s move to reclassify the Internet as a Title II telecommunications service.

Major trade associations representing the cable and telecom industry are seeking a stay to prevent the FCC from reclassifying the Internet, which they say will bring outdated and onerous regulation on a thriving and growing industry.

The reclassification is a regulatory maneuver that supporters say is needed to give the FCC a firm legal footing to impose robust net neutrality rules, including ones that prevent Internet service providers from blocking or throttling content or from selling speedier access to their subscribers. The FCC, led by chairman Tom Wheeler, voted 3-2 in February in favor of reclassification and the net neutrality rules.

In their brief to the D.C. Circuit, supporters of the FCC action contend that ISPs have created an “artificial emergency” over the enforcement of the rules, even though companies like Comcast have said in earnings calls that the reclassification won’t affect the way they do business.

The supporters also challenge ISPs’ claims that the Title II reclassification creates a “general conduct” standard that is too vague.

Without the general conduct standard, “ISPs would have virtual carte blanche to circumvent the bright-line prohibitions through techniques such as degrading their connections to the Internet to impede the flow of Internet content, and using discriminatory data caps to favor an ISP’s affiliated services over those of rivals.”

Also signing on to the supporters’ brief were public interest groups like Color of Change, Public Knowledge, Free Press, Demand Progress and the Center for Democracy and Technology.

“A stay would allow ISPs with this gatekeeper power to continue harming consumers and edge providers through service degradation,” the supporters wrote in their brief.