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News > World

21 US States File Lawsuits Against Ending Net Neutrality

  • Net neutrality advocates rally against repealing so-called net neutrality rules in Washington, U.S..

    Net neutrality advocates rally against repealing so-called net neutrality rules in Washington, U.S.. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 January 2018

Other lawsuits were also filed by pro-neutrality groups while Democrat senators said they were just one vote short for repealing the new FCC rules.

U.S. President Donald Trump-backed policies’ have been hit with yet another legal action as 21 states sued the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday over its decision to end net neutrality, the 2015 rule that barred internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic or offering paid fast lanes, also known as paid prioritization.

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The state attorneys, all of them Democrats and include those of California, New York and Virginia as well as the District of Columbia, called FCC’s December vote “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion” and saying that it violated federal laws and regulations.

The FCC is a U.S. independent agency overseeing radio and telecommunication rules in the country. The current Chairman Ajit Pai was appointed by Trump and is an advocate of eliminating any regulations on telecommunication companies. The repealing of net neutrality was passed in a 3-to-2 party line vote last month.

The news came hours after U.S. Democrat senators said they had 50 votes supporting a bill to repeal the FCC’s action and restore net neutrality.

They would need a majority of 51 votes to pass the bill, which would then need to pass through the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans who are mostly in support of the FCC's Trump administration-backed decision.

Democrats, who are looking to gain majority in the upcoming midterm Congress elections later this year, are hoping the net neutrality issue would be a major motivating factor for the young voters the party is courting, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday.

Meanwhile other groups have also filed similar lawsuits including Mozilla, the nonprofit organization behind the Firefox web browser and the Open Technology Institute, a part of a liberal think tank, the New America Foundation, Reuters reported.

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Also the New York Times reported Tuesday that Free Press and Public Knowledge, two public interest groups, also filed their own legal petitions demanding the restoration of net neutrality. All the legal action cases were filed in federal appeal courts in Washington.

While many giant tech companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google oppose the move against net neutrality, the FCC vote in December marked a victory for AT&T, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications and handed them power over what content consumers can access on the internet.

A trade group representing many tech companies has said it would support any legal action against the new FCC rules, meaning the the legal actions by the states and the advocacy groups would have plenty of financial support.

The new rules will not take effect for at least three months, the FCC had said after the vote last month.

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