The Death Of Net Neutrality Will Be Official In April (Cue The Lawsuits)

from the only-just-begun dept

While the FCC formally voted to kill net neutrality late last year, the actual repeal of the rules doesn't occur until the repeal itself is published in the Federal Register. Sources tell Reuters that with Ajit Pai's agency having completed the finishing touches on its repeal, the publication should finally happen this week. Once that happens, there's a 60 day window before the actual repeal takes effect, meaning the rules will formally end in April:

"The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is expected to publish on Thursday its December order overturning the landmark Obama-era net neutrality rules, two sources briefed on the matter said Tuesday."

Of course that's really just the beginning of an entirely new chapter in the fight to prevent broadband monopolies from abusing a lack of competition in the broadband space (remember: net neutrality violations are just a symptom of a lack of competition, a problem nobody wants to seriously address for fear of upsetting campaign contributors).

The publication in the Federal Register opens the door to the myriad lawsuits that will be filed against the agency. Those lawsuits range from suits by Mozilla and consumer groups, to the 22 state attorneys general who say they're also suing the agency for ignoring the public interest. These lawsuits must be filed within the next 60 days. Expect the court battle to quickly begin heating up in March.

The publication also starts the 60 day shot clock on net neutrality activists' attempts to use the Congressional Review Act to reverse the FCC's repeal. As we've noted that effort needs just one more vote in the Senate, but faces a steep uphill climb in getting approval in the House, where ISP-loyal lawmakers are even more common. It would then require the signature of President Trump, something unlikely to happen. The gambit does have one primary benefit: it will force lawmakers to put their disdain for net neutrality and the will of the public down on paper ahead of the looming midterms.

That said, the lawsuits have a fairly solid shot at reversing the FCC's attack on the rules thanks to numerous missteps by the agency. As we've well documented, the FCC turned a blind eye to identity theft and comment fraud during the repeal by "someone" clearly trying to downplay massive public opposition to the FCC's plan. The FCC also made up a DDOS attack for the same purpose, and used debunked lobbyist data as the cornerstone of the repeal. Expect a lot more data on this behavior to surface during the court challenge.

As we've noted previously, you can expect ISPs to remain on their best behavior for the foreseeable future. Comcast, AT&T and Verizon policy marionettes will be eager to try and suggest that concerns about the repeal were hyperbole. ISP lawyers also won't be keen on providing any ammunition to help opponents in court. And since the next FCC or a future congress could just pass net neutrality rules again -- ISP lobbyists and compromised politicians are busy pushing fake net neutrality legislation with only one real purpose: prevent real, tough rules from being passed later.

It's worth reiterating that ISPs aren't just killing net neutrality here. They're actively eroding most meaningful state and federal (FTC and FCC) oversight over a broken, uncompetitive market. And should ISPs successfully navigate all court challenges and pass their desired legislation codifying federal apathy into law, the result won't be subtle. Anybody that thinks otherwise hasn't watched Comcast do business the last few decades.


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  • identicon
    Walt Whitman, 22 Feb 2018 @ 4:19am

    Remember my name

    because it's on the list of avid supporters to kill net-neutrality, apparently.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 22 Feb 2018 @ 4:51am

      Re: Remember my name

      So you got sucked in the fraudulent anti-NN comments? Chances are you are dead, you should check it.

      /lol (just in case somebody takes it seriously)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Hugo S Cunningham (profile), 22 Feb 2018 @ 6:15am

        Re: Re: Remember my name

        It looks like somebody has been smoking leaves of grass...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Walt Whitman, 22 Feb 2018 @ 2:14pm

        Re: Re: Remember my name

        Yeh. I checked at the cemetery but my plot is currently occupied by someone called Mrs. Bouvier, so now I'm forced to wander the universe for a while. Not to worry, next week I'm off to join WowBagger the Infinitely Prolonged.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2018 @ 6:20am

    maybe easier said than done but the way forward is to get rid of the self-serving politicians who keep accepting the bribes (and yes, they ARE BRIBES!) from the likes of Verizon and Comcast, just to enable their dominance to continue, stifle competition, keep their ability to screw customers and get tax breaks/tax incentives, then doing absolutely nothing to the shit service offered, and vote in someone who will actually grow a pair and do something they are supposed to be in office to do, ie, assist their voters!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2018 @ 6:31am

    I fully expect to see numerous amendments added since the vote to try to head off the numerous state-level initiatives being currently fielded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2018 @ 7:09am

      Re:

      NEVER let a bad situation go to waste.

      History shows that the easiest way to get people to "give up" their essential liberties for temporary safety is to "create" a problem.

      History also shows that the tools/weapons citizens give government are more often than not, turned against those they were intended to protect.

      I hope you guys are ready for more, we are not even close to the end of this problem.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 23 Feb 2018 @ 5:36am

        Re: Re:

        Chip, the politicians who are on our side (government) on this issue are challenging the FCC (government) on this issue in the courts (also government) based on complaints of violations of the law of the land (also government).

        Which part of government (and/or governmental tools, i.e. laws and courts) do you have the problem with, please?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 22 Feb 2018 @ 7:10am

    Please note

    If you think the telecom industry won't abuse this, Spectrum is already having its sales force tell customers with internet only service that they NEED to get TV as well since streaming will no longer provide their entertainment needs with the "death" of network neutrality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2018 @ 9:23am

    Why is this so difficult to understand and make work? ISPs provide a pipe. I know lets's just tell them "You provide a service. You are not allowed to do anything to the traffic that flows thru your service. You may not slow it it down, you may not speed it up, you may not charge more or less for any traffic that flows thru your service. You provide the pipe. If you want to also provide info that flows thru your network fine but you can not prioritize it's flow, you can discount the subscription cost of your content but nothing else"

    The FCC would just make sure that this happens. No fancy language. Just enumerate what the ISPs may NOT do. Then make sure they don't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2018 @ 11:25am

      Re:

      That was exactly what the NN rules were/are and say. Sadly some people didn't actually read them and threw a fit because it was a 'government power grab by the left'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2018 @ 11:51am

      Re:

      It's not difficult to understand or make work. The "problem" is that it would cut into the profits of ISPs, merely allowing them to make a shitload of money instead of all of the money, thus it cannot be allowed to happen.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PlagueSD (profile), 22 Feb 2018 @ 11:32am

    Isn't it a little too early to start planning April Fool's jokes???

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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