The Internet Association, a Washington trade group representing the interests of Silicon Valley technology companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter, and Netflix, announced plans Friday to join upcoming lawsuits of the Federal Communications Commission over its decision to repeal net neutrality rules. The move is expected to be the first of many legal challenges to the move, according to Brian Fung, writing for the Washington Post.
The new regulations would allow providers such as Verizon to speed, slow, or even block certain websites of their choice. The rules were released Thursday night, but are not expected to officially enter the Federal Register for a matter of weeks, according to analysts. These rules must be in place before lawsuits and appeals can begin.
According to a statement by the Internet Association:
“The final version of Chairman Pai’s rule, as expected, dismantles popular net neutrality protections for consumers. This rule defies the will of a bipartisan majority of Americans and fails to preserve a free and open Internet. IA intends to act as an intervenor in judicial action against this order and, along with our member companies, will continue our push to restore strong, enforceable net neutrality protections through a legislative solution.”
When the rules were first put in place by the Obama-era FCC in 2015, the commission successfully went to court to defend net neutrality against a lawsuit by cable and internet providers, who said the commission had overstepped its authority.
Supporters have said they plan to fight the repeal in court, through legislation, and on a state level, arguing that the rules are vital to protect consumers. Congressional Democrats are working to overturn the FCC decision using the Congressional Review Act, which gives legislators the power to review the decision of a federal agency within 60 days of the ruling. However, this requires a majority in both houses of Congress – a tall order for the Trump era’s GOP controlled Congress.
For their part, opponents of the net neutrality rules contend that the commission lacked the authority to implement the rules to begin with. They have said the rules disincentivized providers from expanding their networks to underserved areas.
The Internet Association says it plans to join other lawsuits that will be filed in the coming weeks and months. Etsy has announced plans to challenge the decision, and consumer advocacy groups such as Free Press and Public Knowledge have also indicated an intention to do so.