The FCC “Restoring Internet Freedom” order has been entered in the Federal Register. This is the order that makes massive changes to the Net Neutrality rules that required all internet traffic to be treated equally. The order was published this morning and opens the doors for legal battles to start in earnest.
There is no doubt that intense debates and legal battles will ensue over the order and there are strong opinions and feelings on both sides of the Net Neutrality argument. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel issued a statement today:
The FCC’s net neutrality decision is a study in just what’s wrong with Washington. This agency failed the American public. It failed to listen to their concerns and gave short shrift to their deeply held belief that internet openness should remain the law of the land. It turned a blind eye to all kinds of corruption in our public record—from Russian intervention to fake comments to stolen identities in our files. 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. 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.
Now that the “Restoring Internet Freedom” order is in effect; legal actions can begin against it and several legal actions are expected. One of the things that will happen, reports TechCrunch, is that Democrats in the Senate and House will be able to force a vote on blocking the order. It won’t get past President Donald Trump’s desk, but it will force a vote and some think that the voting record could result in changes in mid-term elections. Representative Mike Doyle and 143 other House representatives are ready to fight the order.
Doyle said, “With the publication of these rules, the FCC has taken another step towards stripping away the essential protections that make the internet an open platform for commerce, communication, expression, and innovation. Now that the order to eliminate net neutrality has been published in the Federal Register, the period of time in which legislation to overturn the order can be introduced has begun, and we can begin the legislative process to overrule the FCC and preserve net neutrality.”
Some believe that the Administrative Procedure Act may have been violated in this order. This act prohibits “arbitrary and capricious” rulemaking. The thought here is that the way the FCC passed the changes and ignored experts in the field ran afoul of that act. This possibility is being pursued by Mozilla and Vimeo.
The FCC order could also be preempted by state laws. Several states already have or will have their own net neutrality rules. The idea here is that when the FCC struck down Title II, which is the statutory authority where net neutrality was enforced nationwide, it left itself powerless to enforce its new rules allowing State laws to prevail.