Internet Service Providers Try to Stop Net Neutrality in Court

Earlier this year, the FCC passed a new rule to reinstate Net Neutrality. In April, the FTC and FCC announced a partnership to enforce Net Neutrality and regulate the Internet. For years, the debate has centered on which entity, the FTC or the FCC, has regulatory control over the Internet. Now, both agencies will collaborate to enforce rules for Internet providers.

Large Internet providers, represented by a lobby group for cable and telecom companies, have asked the FCC to put the Net Neutrality rules on hold until the results of a court case are determined. They believe they have a strong chance of winning the case. The FCC is expected to deny this request, but the companies hope the Supreme Court will rule in their favor. Recently, the Supreme Court has limited agencies’ abilities to create rules without Congressional approval, and providers hope this trend will work in their favor.

ACA Connects, a trade organization representing over 500 small- and medium-sized independent Internet, video, and phone service providers, has joined the opposition. ACA Connects President and CEO Grant Spellmeyer stated, “The FCC’s internet takeover is unwarranted, and it is creating an unpredictable and untenable environment for small and independent providers trying to make needed investments to close the digital divide.” He expressed support for Congressman Bob Latta’s resolution, thanking him for his leadership as the chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

The new rules reclassify Internet service providers as Title II companies, giving the FCC, in partnership with the FTC, more regulatory power. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel emphasized that consumers do not want their broadband providers engaging in practices like blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. She stated, “In partnership with our colleagues at the FTC, we will protect consumers and ensure internet openness, defend national security, and monitor network resiliency and reliability.” FTC Chair Lina M. Khan added, “Effective law enforcement requires targeting the upstream actors enabling unlawful conduct, and having the FCC as a partner here will be critical.”

Despite the reclassification, the full impact of Net Neutrality is still months or years away, as legal challenges are expected. However, the FCC and FTC are working together to create a regulatory framework for the Internet.