Twenty Two US States Demand Return Of Net Neutrality

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Group of attorney generals ask court to halt FCC’s efforts to stop US states imposing their own open Internet rules

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) continues to face fierce opposition after it voted last December to “roll back” Obama-era net neutrality rules.

The US communication regulator’s decision, which came into law in June, has been fiercely opposed by the US Senate, tech firms, and many US states.

And now 22 of these US states have banded together to ask the US Appeals Court to stop attempts by the FCC to halt US states implementing their own net neutrality rules.

internet net neutrality (C) Peshkova - Shutterstock

State opposition

The group of 22 state attorney generals, as well as the District of Columbia on Monday asked a US appeals court to reinstate the Obama administration’s 2015 landmark net neutrality rules.

The 22 US states had in January sued to stop the new rules from taking effect. But now they have asked the court to reject the Trump administration’s efforts (the FCC is controlled by its Republican chairman Ajit Pai – appointed by President Trump) to pre-empt states from imposing their own rules guaranteeing an open internet.

This is because three US states including Washington State have already signed a law in direct opposition to the FCC in order to stop Internet Service Providers from blocking websites or offering fast lane Internet access to companies willing to pay.

Governors in six states have also signed executive orders on net neutrality.

Court appeal

Reuters said that several internet companies have also filed a separate legal challenge on Monday to overturn the FCC ruling, including Mozilla, Vimeo, Etsy, and numerous media and technology advocacy groups.

The states argue the FCC reversal will harm consumers. The states also suggested the FCC failed to identify any “valid authority” for pre-empting state and local laws that would protect net neutrality.

The FCC failed to offer a “meaningful defence of its decision to uncritically accept industry promises that are untethered to any enforcement mechanism,” the states are quoted as saying by Reuters.

FCC Chairman Pai has repeatedly said he believes the rules will be upheld.

But such was the fallout from the FCC decision, that Pai in January this year unexpectedly cancelled an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas because of death threats.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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