Federal appeals court dismisses challenge to FCC net neutrality rules

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] on Monday granted [order; PDF] a motion [text, PDF] by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] to dismiss a challenge to the new net neutrality rules. Verizon and MetroPCS [corporate websites] filed an appeal challenging the new net neutrality rules [text, PDF] that allow the government to regulate Internet traffic to preserve the Internet as a free and open platform of communication. The court dismissed the appeal for improper timing because the challenged rulemaking document has yet to be published in the Federal Register and is not a licensing decision with respect to the specific parties as required by 47 CFR § 1.4(b)(1) [text]. The court said it would be subject to judicial review once it is published in the Federal Register. Verizon spokesperson Ed McFadden said that the notices of appeal were filed because the FCC's rules governing timing of appeals were unclear [Reuters report] and the company did not want to lose its right to appeal. Verizon plans to file a second appeal when the rules are published in the Federal Register.

Verizon and MetroPCS [JURIST reports] filed the challenges in January out of concern over the broad authority the new rules would grant the FCC. The FCC has long been trying to exert more control over Internet regulation. Last year, US Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) [official website] introduced legislation [JURIST report] intended to block the FCC from implementing its National Broadband Plan [official website; materials]. The Freedom for Consumer Choice Act would remove the FCC's ability to declare the actions of a communications provider illegal unless there was a clear showing that the practice causes harm to consumers and will not be corrected by market forces. A month earlier, the FCC opened a new proceeding [JURIST report] to identify the legal approach that will best support its efforts to develop universal access to "high quality" Internet broadband services. A previous court ruling found that the FCC lacks the power to enforce net neutrality [JURIST report]. Net neutrality is thought by supporters to be essential to the goal of an open flow of information over the Internet regardless of the amount of revenue generated by the information.

 

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