×

State Attorneys General File Suit Over FCC’s Net Neutrality Repeal

WASHINGTON — State attorneys general filed lawsuits on Tuesday challenging the FCC’s repeal of most of its net neutrality rules.

Other litigation was also filed by Mozilla and several public interest groups, including Open Technology Institute, New America Foundation, and Free Press, also sued.

Attorneys general from 21 states and the District of Columbia, including California and New York, filed a petition for review and argued that the FCC’s action was “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion,” and violated the Constitution and federal law.

The FCC voted 3-2 last month to repeal rules that prohibit internet providers from blocking or throttling content, or from giving preference to sites that pay for speedier access to consumers. The move was championed by Chairman Ajit Pai, who argued that the existing regulations were choking off investment by internet providers in expanding their networks.

The attorneys general said they filed a petition out of an “abundance of caution,” citing some ambiguity over when a lawsuit has to be filed in order to be included in a lottery to determine which federal court will review the case. It’s likely that they will have to file a lengthier lawsuit after the FCC’s action is published in the Federal Register.

“Internet access is a utility, just like water and electricity,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “And every consumer has a right to access online content without interference or manipulation by their internet service provider.”

An FCC spokeswoman said they had no comment.

The attorneys general indicated that they would challenge a number of the FCC’s moves, including a provision that prohibits individual states from establishing their own net neutrality rules. They also indicated that they would challenge the way that the FCC considered more than 20 million comments filed in the case, although studies showed that a great number were duplicates. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who led the attorneys general litigation, asked the FCC to delay its December vote, arguing that he had evidence that many comments came from stolen identities.

The litigation was filed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Other states joining the lawsuit include Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

Mozilla also filed a lawsuit. Denelle Dixon, its chief legal and business officer, wrote in a blog post that “we filed our petition today because we believe the recent FCC decision violates both federal law as well as harms internet users and innovators. In fact, it really only benefits large Internet Service Providers.”

Free Press filed a challenge to the FCC’s action in Massachusetts, where the group’s main office is based.

Matt Wood, Free Press’ policy director, said, “Ajit Pai and his Republican colleagues at the FCC blundered their way to a bad decision late last year. They ignored the legal and economic evidence showing that the prior rules and regulatory classifications were working beautifully, as broadband investment and deployment continued to grow under the Title II-based rules Pai struck down.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Senate Democrats announced that all 49 members of their caucus will vote to restore the rules. They are planning to call for a floor vote to reverse the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, and also have the support of one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), leaving them just one vote short of a majority.

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) said he so far has 82 co-sponsors for a similar resolution in the House.

Even if that resolution passes both chamber, though, it is likely that President Donald Trump would veto it. The White House has indicated that it supports the FCC’s moves to roll back the net neutrality regulations.

(Pictured: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai)

More Biz

  • Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in

    Paramount Inks Deal for Theme Park in South Korea

    Paramount Pictures has announced a deal to install a studio-branded theme park in an entertainment resort being developed in South Korea. The agreement was struck between Paramount and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, which owns the Inspire Integrated Entertainment Resort in the South Korean city of Incheon. Mohegan has invested KRW 2.8 trillion ($2.4 billion) in [...]

  • Davan Maharaj Mel Gibson

    L.A. Times Publisher's Lawyer Was Accused of Extorting Mel Gibson

    The attorney who negotiated a $2.5 million exit package for L.A. Times publisher Davan Maharaj was previously accused of using secret recordings to extort actor Mel Gibson. Surreptitious recordings also figure in the Maharaj case. NPR reported on Wednesday that Maharaj taped Tronc chairman Michael Ferro. According to the report, Ferro was heard on the [...]

  • 'Blurred Lines' Suit Ends With $5

    'Blurred Lines' Suit Ends With $5 Million Judgement Against Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams

    After five years, the legal battle over the copyright of the Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit “Blurred Lines” has ended, with Marvin Gaye’s family being awarded a final judgment of nearly $5 million against the song’s primary writers, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, according to CNN and other reports. The pair were accused of copyright infringement [...]

  • WME Veteran Ari Greenburg Promoted to

    WME Veteran Ari Greenburg Promoted to President of Talent Agency

    WME veteran Ari Greenburg, one of the original Endeavor staffers who helped build the talent agency that became an industry powerhouse, has been promoted to president. Greenburg will oversee all daily operations across WME and its offices in Beverly Hills, New York, Nashville, London and Sydney. The promotion recognizes the role that Greenburg has played [...]

  • Alison Wenham Steps Down as CEO

    Alison Wenham Steps Down as CEO of WIN

    After 12 years at the helm of the Worldwide Independent Network, a global trade organization for the independent music industry, Alison Wenham is stepping down as Chief Executive, it was announced today. Prior to joining WIN full time in 2016 Alison was CEO of The Association of Independent Music (AIM), which she started in 1999. [...]

  • Leslie Moonves

    Leslie Moonves Quietly Exits AFI and Paley Center Boards

    Leslie Moonves, the ousted CEO of CBS Corp. who has been accused of sexual misconduct by several women, is no longer serving on the boards of trustees of the American Film Institute and the Paley Center for Media. For now, Moonves retains his seat on the board of gaming company ZeniMax Media. The appointments on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content