Internet giants urge court to overturn net neutrality repeal

Internet giants urge court to overturn net neutrality repeal
© Greg Nash

Groups representing internet giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon on Monday asked a federal appeals court to reinstate the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rules.

The Internet Association (IA) and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), two of Silicon Valley’s most prominent trade groups, filed in support of a lawsuit against the FCC for its repeal of the 2015 regulations late last year.

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The rules, which prohibited internet service providers from blocking, throttling or prioritizing most web traffic, were officially repealed in June. The lawsuit was filed earlier this year by a coalition of Democratic state attorneys general and smaller internet and media companies.

“Absent conduct rules, the 'virtuous cycle' in which all participants in the internet ecosystem are able to prosper on account of open access to content has been replaced by a system in which [internet service providers] have the incentive and ability to stifle both consumer choice and new online offerings,” they wrote in their filing.

The groups were joined by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which represents the video game industry, and the Writers Guild of America West.

The FCC declined to comment on Monday’s filing.

The commission, led by Republican Chairman Ajit Pai, argued that the Obama-era rules were too onerous and dampened industry investment. Pai says that the new framework, which requires broadband companies to disclose whether they discriminate against certain content, coupled with existing consumer protection laws will be sufficient at policing the industry.

But the internet industry groups on Monday dismissed that argument, saying that regulators will now be ill-equipped to combat any unfair practices and that the broadband marketplace is so concentrated that consumers will have little recourse.

“It’s indisputable that net neutrality protections help consumers, promote innovation, and foster competition online,” Michael Beckerman, IA’s CEO, said in a statement. “Strong net neutrality protections ensure that consumers, not ISPs decide what websites and apps you can use.”