The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) order repealing net neutrality was published in the Federal Register Thursday morning, opening the door for supporters of the Obama-era rules to launch legislative and legal challenges.
The Republican-led FCC voted to repeal the consumer protections in December amid an outcry from internet users and activists worried that the move would give free rein to companies like Verizon and Comcast to disrupt the free flow of information online.
"As a result of the mess the agency created, broadband providers will now have the power to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content," Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who voted against the repeal, said in a statement on Thursday. "This is not right. The FCC is on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the law and it deserves to have its handiwork revisited, reexamined, and ultimately reversed.”
Now that the new rules have officially been published, net neutrality supporters are able to mount a legal challenge against them. Democratic attorneys general, public interest groups and internet companies have all promised to file lawsuits to preserve the 2015 protections.
One group, Public Knowledge, said that it would be filing its own lawsuit on Thursday.
“Despite the hard blow [FCC] Chairman [Ajit] Pai has dealt to the Open Internet, small businesses, and consumers, the fight for net neutrality continues," John Bergmayer, the group's senior counsel, said in a statement.
"Today, Public Knowledge is filing a challenge to the FCC’s action in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where we are confident that the FCC’s illegal and procedurally flawed action will be rejected."
Net neutrality supporters in Congress are also now able to try to overturn the repeal through legislation. A Senate bill that would erase December's vote is currently one Republican supporter away from being able to pass the chamber, though it would be a long-shot for passage in the House.
The final draft of the rules sets April 23 as the day the repeal goes into effect, but portions of the order are still pending approval from the Office of Management and Budget, which could delay its implementation.
--This report was last updated at 11:09 a.m.