Liberal group challenges FCC net neutrality ruling

tina.nguyen Contributor
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Though last week’s Federal Communications Commission filing which placed net neutrality in the Federal Register may have seemed an apparent victory for open internet advocates, a prominent free speech group is challenging the ruling, calling it “arbitrary and capricious, [and] an abuse of discretion.”

Free Press, a liberal, nonpartisan news advocacy group whose goal is to “reform the media,” filed a petition today in Boston’s First Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that wireless internet users—including smartphone users nationwide—were not afforded the same protections given to “fixed platform,” or computer, users.

In contrast to the internet service providers expected to challenge the ruling, Free Press, a longtime proponent of net neutrality as a means of preventing internet distributors from blocking content or applications, believes that the ruling is not good enough and does not adequately protect wireless users from data limits.

According to a statement from Free Press, while the new Open Internet Rules adequately protect users of land-based networks, “they fail to protect wireless users from discrimination, and they let mobile providers block innovative applications with impunity.

“The disparity that the FCC’s rules create is unjust and unjustified. And it’s especially problematic because of the increasing popularity of wireless, along with its increasing importance for younger demographics and diverse populations who rely on mobile devices as their primary means for getting online.”

Previous suits against the Open Internet Rule, which had been approved by the FCC in October 2010 but not defined, had been filed against the FCC.  A suit from Verizon, which argued that net neutrality would impose undue regulations on Internet providers, was dismissed earlier this year in January because the rules had not yet been codified.  With the rules being placed on the federal register recently, more opponents of net neutrality are expected to file multiple suits challenging the decision.

An FCC spokesman says that they will “vigorously oppose any effort to disrupt or unsettle”  the Open Internet Rule, citing the need for certainty for Internet users. “Since its adoption, the Commission’s open internet framework has brought certainty and predictability, stimulating increased innovation and investment across the broadband economy, including mobile networks and apps.”

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