The new federal rules for net neutrality were allowed to take effect on Friday after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a motion to stay the regulation.
"Petitioners have not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review," the three-judge panel said in its Thursday decision, which allowed the rules to kick in Friday at 12:01 a.m.
The ruling is not on the final merits of the challenge, but it hands an early victory to net neutrality advocates.
The regulations reclassify Internet service providers as utility companies, giving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) more power to regulate them. That includes stopping providers from selectively slowing the speed of online data.
“This is a huge victory for Internet consumers and innovators,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said. “Starting Friday, there will be a referee on the field to keep the Internet fast, fair and open.”
Rep. Anna Eshoo (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, called the ruling “critical validation that the new rules to protect an open Internet are grounded in strong legal footing and can endure future challenges by broadband providers.”
But Thursday evening, Republican lawmakers said the ruling was creating "uncertainty."
“Unfortunately, we are now in for a long, unnecessary wait while the courts determine if the commission was out of bounds," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), communications subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and subcommittee Vice Chairman Bob Latta (R-Ohio) said in a statement.
Industry groups expressed disappointment at the decision not to stay the rules but cheered the ruling that the case should receive faster consideration. “While we’re disappointed the court declined to grant our stay request, we recognize that the bar for obtaining a stay is exceptionally high,” said Walter B. McCormick Jr., the president of the trade group U.S. Telecom, which brought a suit against the law.
“While we’re disappointed the court declined to grant our stay request, we recognize that the bar for obtaining a stay is exceptionally high,” said Walter B. McCormick Jr., the president of the trade group U.S. Telecom, which brought a lawsuit against the law.
“However, the court’s decision to grant expedited briefing shows the gravity of the issues at stake, and will facilitate a quicker path to determining the proper legal treatment for regulating broadband Internet access service.”
The head of CTIA, the main trade group for the wireless industry and a critic of the order, said the group looked “forward to presenting our full case to the court.”
While many in the telecom industry hoped that the rules would be stayed, providers have been taking steps to avoid becoming the targets of complaints when the rules take effect.
Many have signed new interconnection agreements with the "backbone operators" that control the core pathways of the Internet. Many of those operators have said service providers are slowing traffic and have threatened to file complaints with the FCC.
Last updated on June 12 at 10:06 a.m.