22 state attorneys sue to save Net Neutrality

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

18 January 2018

On Tuesday, attorneys general from 22 US states came together to file a suit challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of its own Net Neutrality rules.

The attorneys from California, New York, and Virginia as well as the District of Columbia, among many others, filed the petition with the federal appeals court in Washington. The suit claims that the repeal violates federal laws, and calls the FCC’s behaviour “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion”.

In a statement announcing the suit, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said:

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.

Since the FCC revealed its plans to do away with the guidelines in November, privacy advocates and concerned citizens have been mounting a response to what is widely seen as a move that would limit internet freedom.

As internet users have contacted their representatives to make their thoughts known, Senate Democrats have worked ferociously to push a bill to stop the repeal. The bill hopes to take advantage of the Congressional Review Act, which could, in theory, overrule the FCC’s decision by issuing a resolution of disapproval. But there is a strict time limit within which to invoke the CRA, and the resolution would have to be supported by two-thirds of the House and the Senate.

All 49 Democratic Senators have endorsed this measure, with one Republican , Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, crossing party lines to also endorse it. This leaves the group just one Republican vote short of the 51 votes needed to pass a Senate resolution of disapproval.

Whether there is another Republican Senator willing to lend their vote to the cause, however, remains to be seen.

Privacy advocates, then, will welcome this new suit as another angle of attack on what is a hugely unpopular move by the FCC. If the Senate bill fails to attract its final necessary voter, the fate of Net Neutrality may lie in the hands of the courts.

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