FCC asks appeals court to uphold 'Net Neutrality' repeal

FCC asks appeals court to uphold 'Net Neutrality' repeal
© Greg Nash

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is asking a federal appeals court to uphold the controversial decision to repeal the popular 2015 net neutrality rules.

In a filing with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday night, the commission responded to a lawsuit brought by a coalition of Democratic state attorneys general and consumer groups saying that it acted properly in overturning the rules last December.

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“The legal and policy analysis presented in the Order easily fulfills the Commission’s responsibility to explain its repeal of the 2015 order and its decision to restore the prior longstanding approach to broadband classification,” the filing reads. “Petitioners’ objections to the Order under review are meritless.”

The rules, passed by the FCC under the Obama administration, prohibited internet service providers from blocking or throttling websites, or from charging them fees for faster speeds.

The current GOP-controlled FCC voted to roll the rules back last year, arguing that they were too onerous for the broadband industry. Chairman Ajit Pai has argued that existing laws, combined with rules requiring the industry to be transparent about its practices, are sufficient to prevent companies like Verizon and AT&T from abusing their power over internet access.

The decision prompted lawsuits from a wide range of public interest groups and efforts by Democrats at the state and federal level to undermine the repeal.

A separate net neutrality court case is also unfolding over California’s decision to pass its own state law replacing the federal rules, a move that the FCC had explicitly prohibited in its order but has prompted multiple challenges from the states.

Republicans have called for a legislative fix to the regulatory uncertainty that the industry currently faces, but Democrats have so far resisted and are unlikely to come to the table while the GOP controls Congress and the D.C. Circuit is deciding the fate of the repeal.

Both sides will present oral arguments before the court in February.