22 attorneys general sue the FCC over net neutrality repeal

17 January 2018 | Natalie Bannerman


A multi-state lawsuit, led by Eric Schneiderman and a coalition of 21 other attorneys general, has been filed against the FCC over its "illegal rollback of net neutrality".

Eric Schneiderman 280 x 420 topThe petition for review has been filed with the US Court of Appeals, officially beginning a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), led by chairman Ajit Pai, and the federal government.

In the official press release announcing the lawsuit, 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. This would be a disaster for New York consumers and businesses, and for everyone who cares about a free and open internet. That’s why I’m proud to lead this broad coalition of 22 attorneys general in filing suit to stop the FCC’s illegal rollback of net neutrality.”

The 22 states listed as part of the petition are: New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The statement goes on to say that the repeal of net neutrality would have ‘dire consequences’ for businesses and consumers across the country and that in doing so internet service providers would be able to “block certain content, charge consumers more to access certain sites, and throttle or slow the quality of content from content providers that don’t pay more”.

Schneiderman names the Administrative Procedure Act, as the basis for his lawsuit stating that “the FCC cannot make “arbitrary and capricious” changes to existing policies, such as net neutrality”. It goes on to say that the new FCC legislation fails to justify the Commission’s reason to abolish the long-standing policy and accuses them of “misinterpreting and disregarding critical record evidence on industry practices and harm to consumers and businesses”.

In addition as per the FCC’s official draft of Restoring Internet Freedom Order, or the net neutrality repeal order as it’s more commonly known, Schneiderman says that the order “wrongly reclassifies broadband internet as a Title I information service, rather than a Title II telecommunications service, based on an erroneous and unreasonable interpretation of the Telecommunications Act”. And ends by accusing the order of “improperly and unlawfully” making “sweeping preemption of state and local laws”.

Since the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality laws back in December, the decision has been met but nothing short of a public outcry. In addition to Schneiderman, the vote has been criticised by the likes of Netflix, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and the Internet Association.

Mozilla, the creators of the Firefox web browser, has also filed its own petition against the FCC saying that the “internet is a global, public resource” and that “ending net neutrality could end the internet as we know it”.