22 State Attorneys General File Suit Against The FCC For Its Net Neutrality Repeal
from the legal-fisticuffs dept
The legal fight over the FCC’s historically unpopular decision to kill net neutrality has begun. An announcement by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office indicates that 22 State Attorneys General have filed suit against the FCC. The AGs says the multi-state coalition has filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the first of what’s expected to be numerous lawsuits in the weeks and months to come.
The announcement makes it clear the suit intends to focus on the FCC’s potential violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Under the Act the FCC will need to prove that the broadband market changed so substantially since the passage of the original rules in 2015 to warrant such a stark reversal (tip: it didn’t). Under the Act, a decision can be declared “arbitrary and capricious” (Ajit Pai’s agenda is undeniably both) if the regulator in question can’t prove such a dramatic change, which is why you’ve watched industry lobbyists and their BFF Pai routinely and falsely claim that the modest rules somehow devastated sector investment.
Schneiderman quite correctly documents the potential pitfalls of gutting meaningful oversight of some of the least-competitive companies in America:
“An open internet ? and the free exchange of ideas it allows ? is critical to our democratic process,? said Attorney General Schneiderman. ?The repeal of net neutrality would turn internet service providers into gatekeepers ? allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do, and what we say online. This would be a disaster for New York consumers and businesses, and for everyone who cares about a free and open internet. That?s why I?m proud to lead this broad coalition of 22 Attorneys General in filing suit to stop the FCC?s illegal rollback of net neutrality.”
You’ll recall that Schneiderman’s office is also conducting an investigation into who’s behind the flood of bogus comments filed during the public comment period of the FCC’s repeal order. Millions of the bogus comments were clearly filed by some group or individual hoping to erode trust in integrity of the comments in the hopes of downplaying massive public opposition to the FCC’s plan. When Schneiderman’s office contacted the FCC to get some help identifying the culprits the FCC refused nine different times over a period of five months, according to an open letter to the FCC by Schneiderman late last year.
Numerous lawsuits are expected to follow once the FCC’s repeal hits the Federal Register (expected in the next month or so).
All of these suits will highlight the numerous instances of FCC incompetence or fraud, ranging from the fake DDoS attack the FCC apparently manufactured to downplay the John Oliver effect, to why the FCC turned a blind eye while somebody stole the identity of dead people to forge bogus support for the FCC’s agenda. Also likely to be highlighted is how the FCC ignored the public, ignored the experts, ignored the industry’s startups, and used bogus lobbyist data to prop up what may just be the least popular tech policy decision in the history of the modern internet.