Attorneys General of several states are suing to block the rollback of net neutrality rules approved this week by the Federal Communications Commission.
David Royse | LedeTree
Several state attorneys general have joined New York’s Eric Schneiderman in an effort to undo what the Federal Communications Commission did this week when it voted to end rules prohibiting internet service providers from favoring some web traffic in terms of speed.
The so-called net neutrality rules, which had been in place since 2015, prevented, for example, an ISP from allowing some websites to deliver their content at faster speeds in return for a premium paid to the ISP by consumers.
The FCC voted on Thursday to end the rules.
“Today’s new rule would enable ISPs to charge consumers more to access sites like Facebook and Twitter and give them the leverage to degrade high quality of video streaming until and unless somebody pays them more money. Even worse, today’s vote would enable ISPs to favor certain viewpoints over others,” Schneiderman said in a statement released shortly after Thursday’s vote that announced he was suing to have the rules reinstated.
Since then, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenbloom, Illinois AG Lisa Madigan, Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, Washington State AG Bob Ferguson, Kentucky AG Andy Beshear and Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro have either joined, or said they intend to sue.
“The vote by the Federal Communications Commission to gut Net Neutrality could end the Internet as we know it,” said Pennsylvania’s Shapiro. “The FCC action undermines free speech and is bad for consumers and business—especially startups and small businesses.”
Iowa Attorney General Tim Miller tweeted that his office would consult with others, indicating that state might also join. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra hasn’t committed his state to the lawsuit, but did criticize the FCC’s vote.
We all rely on a free and open internet, and we will no longer have an even playing field if we start to incentivize Big Cable over other companies. I’m proud to stand up with other AG’s to fight these actions. #NetNeutrality
— Ellen Rosenblum (@ORDOJ) December 15, 2017
The FCC doesn’t see the issue the same way as the attorneys general and other opponents of the change.
The commission’s statement after the vote said it was “restoring Internet freedom.”
“What is responsible for the phenomenal development of the Internet? It certainly wasn’t heavy-handed government regulation,” argued FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who voted in favor of the change. “Quite to the contrary: At the dawn of the commercial Internet, President Clinton and a Republican Congress agreed that it would be the policy of the United States ‘to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet . . . unfettered by Federal or State regulation.’ This bipartisan policy worked. ”
Pai and other opponents of net neutrality say the rules have hampered innovation. They argue that without the financial incentives to recoup investment through some sort of paid priority structure, future internet uses, from remote medical technology to better virtual reality to the Internet of Things, may not fully emerge in the United States because the infrastructure won’t support it.
“If our rules deter the massive infrastructure investment that we need, eventually we’ll pay the price in terms of less innovation,” Pai said.
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