Washington, DC, USA: The Federal Communications Commission, (FCC), today, Thursday, made the repeal of the Obama-era net neutrality – open internet – official with a publication of the repeal order in the Federal Register. The final draft of the rules sets April 23 as the day the repeal goes into effect, but portions of the order are still pending approval from the Office of Management and Budget, which could delay its implementation.
Now that the new rules have officially been published, net neutrality supporters are able to mount a legal challenge against them. Democratic attorneys general, public interest groups and internet companies have all promised to file lawsuits to preserve the 2015 protections.
One group, Public Knowledge, said that it would be filing its own lawsuit on Thursday.
“Despite the hard blow [FCC] Chairman [Ajit] Pai has dealt to the Open Internet, small businesses, and consumers, the fight for net neutrality continues,” John Bergmayer, the group’s senior counsel, said in a statement.
“Today, Public Knowledge is filing a challenge to the FCC’s action in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where we are confident that the FCC’s illegal and procedurally flawed action will be rejected.”
Net neutrality supporters in Congress are also now able to try to overturn the repeal through legislation. A Senate bill that would erase December’s vote is currently one Republican supporter away from being able to pass the chamber, though it would be a long-shot for passage in the House.
“As a result of the mess the agency created, broadband providers will now have the power to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content,” Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who voted against the repeal, said in a statement on Thursday. “This is not right. The FCC is on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the law and it deserves to have its handiwork revisited, reexamined, and ultimately reversed.”
The Republican-led FCC voted to repeal the consumer protections in December amid an outcry from internet users and activists worried that the move would give free rein to companies like Verizon and Comcast to disrupt the free flow of information online.
EARLIER: Washington, DC, USA: 21 States Sue To Block Trump FCC Repeal Of Obama-era Net Neutrality, Open Internet – The attorneys general of 21 states filed a multi-state lawsuit Tuesday, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, to block the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules, open internet.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who is leading the multi-state petition, said the FCC’s decision to rescind net neutrality rules was illegal and allows Internet service providers to block certain content, charge more to access certain sites and slow down the service for content providers that don’t pay more.
“An open Internet, and the free exchange of ideas it allows, is critical to our democratic process. 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,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
In addition to New York, other states that have joined the lawsuit include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality also prevents states from being able to protect their consumers from illegal actions taken by Internet service providers.
“Allowing powerful special interest to act as the Internet’s gatekeepers harms consumers, innovation and small businesses,” Ferguson said in a statement. “We believe the FCC acted unlawfully when it gutted net neutrality, and I look forward to holding the FCC accountable to the rule of law,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.
Ferguson is involved in an ongoing lawsuit against Comcast on behalf of Washingtonians who said the cable and Internet giant enrolled thousands of people in services they didn’t ask for.
As the FCC faces a lawsuit from several states, the agency may also have to worry about Senate Democrats. On Tuesday, Senator Ed Markey, Democratic-Mass., said the entire Democratic caucus is co-sponsoring legislation that will repeal the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality rules.
“There is a tsunami of congressional and grassroots support to overturn the FCC’s partisan and misguided decision on net neutrality,” Senator Ed Markey said.