The folks who just officiated over net neutrality Internet regulations, the Federal Communications Commission, are being sued by—yep, the folks who fought to make net neutrality happen. Net neutrality’s advocates suing net neutrality’s enforcers?
True story. The FCC just last week rolled out the final version of its network neutrality rules, queuing them to take effect at the end of November. But a group known as “Free Press” wants those rules reviewed, claiming they violate the Communications Act of 1934. That’s the federal act that essentially replaced the Federal Radio Commission with the FCC.
Free Press filed suit against the FCC yesterday, September 28 in Boston’s First Circuit Court of Appeals. It’s actually taking umbrage with something the FCC did back in December 2010, but had to wait until now because the FCC had to finalize net neutrality’s rules before legal action was permitted (Verizon and MetroPCS each filed suit against the regulations last April, only to have their lawsuits dismissed as premature).
Free Press’s specific beef involves the way the FCC protects wired and wireless Internet access—Free Press calls the current rule provisions “arbitrary” and claims they do less to protect mobile wireless Internet access than wire-based Internet.
“When the FCC first proposed the Open Internet rules, they came with the understanding that there is only one Internet, no matter how people choose to reach it,” said Free Press policy director Matt Wood in a statement.
“The final rules provide some basic protections for consumers, but do not deliver on the promise to preserve openness for mobile Internet access. They fail to protect wireless users from discrimination, and they let mobile providers block innovative applications with impunity.”
Wood argues the “disparity” in the FCC’s rules is “unjust and unjustified,” and that it’s an increasingly serious issue given the rise of wireless Internet access and its use by “younger demographics and diverse populations who rely on mobile devices as their primary means for getting online.”
The FCC’s response? In a statement, the FCC said it would “vigorously oppose any effort to disrupt or unsettle that certainty, which ensures that the Internet remains an engine for job creation, innovation and economic growth.”