Verizon: We will sue U.S. FCC over ‘net neutrality’

Randal Milch is Verizon’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President – Public Policy, Law & Security. He leads the company’s public policy, legal, regulatory, government affairs and security groups and he’s posted the following to the Verizon Public Policy Blog, verbatim:

Diminishing the Prospects of Further Net Neutrality Litigation

There has been a lot of speculation lately that, whatever the FCC decides about new Net Neutrality rules, the whole thing is headed for another round in court. That doesn’t have to be the case. The FCC has the opportunity to create Net Neutrality rules that prevent any harmful “paid prioritization” practices that some fear, and to do so in a way that both ensures the rules are not overturned and makes further litigation a diminishing prospect.

The key to whether there is further litigation is the statutory basis the FCC chooses as the foundation for its new rules. If, as the FCC proposed back in May and as the D.C. Circuit suggested in its decision nearly a year ago, the new rules are based on Section 706 of the Communications Act, then the possibility that a rule prohibiting paid prioritization will be overturned is essentially eliminated, and the chances that there will even be appeals of the rules are reduced considerably. Here’s why.

Based on the public record and news reports, there are three active camps in the current debate: the utility regulation proponents, championed by Free Press, Public Knowledge and a few of the Silicon Valley companies pushing hard for a re-classification of Internet access as a “Title II” telecommunications service; the Internet service providers and others, such as organized labor and a number of civil rights groups, which argue strenuously that reclassification will endanger further investment in America’s superior networks, and that Section 706 provides a sufficient basis for rules; and the majority of the tech industry, quietly pushing a Section 706 solution.

There are also two basic views of how the new rules could turn out: either they “over-regulate” the space by extending FCC authority beyond its statutory limits, or by creating regulations that have no basis in the record, thereby changing the way the Internet has operated for the past two decades; or they could impose less regulation than the Title II advocates would like. The truth is that a lawsuit by the “Internet is a utility” crowd claiming that the FCC imposed less regulation than they wanted has a very low chance of success. And this is true here in particular. The courts have clearly identified a lawful statutory basis for action, and the FCC has the ability to closely match its rules to the record it produces.

Now in broad strokes let’s compare these two views with what the FCC might do. If the FCC reclassifies Internet access as a Title II service, the hyper-regulatory group will be happy, but may sue anyway if the FCC forbears from too many arcane common carrier rules for their taste (and to keep their fund raising pipeline flowing). As well, the ISPs, and perhaps some in the tech industry, will have no choice but to fight the sudden reversal of two decades of settled law. By departing from the judicially sanctioned Section 706 approach, the FCC will have increased both the likelihood – and the likelihood of success – of any legal challenge.

Recently we’ve heard press reports that the FCC might embrace a “hybrid” model – one that splits Internet access apart (at least in metaphysical terms), and reclassifies the content-provider portion as a Title II service, but bases customer-facing rules on section 706. Both the utility regulation crowd and the ISPs have pushed back hard on this approach. Here the FCC has opened itself to credible challenges by all parties. Again, by departing from the safe harbor of Section 706, the FCC will face strong challenges on the partial move to Title II from those investing in networks. And because the FCC will have to describe why the partial move was necessary, it will open itself to challenge by the utility regulation camp about why a wholesale move to Title II wasn’t equally necessary. Like a full move to Title II, the hybrid approach also fairly guarantees litigation.

Finally, there is the original section 706-based proposal. In this instance all of the major ISPs and their trade associations have conceded that the FCC can lawfully prohibit harmful paid prioritization on this basis – effectively waiving their ability to challenge the FCC’s authority to do so and taking them out of the litigation path. For their part, the utility regulation camp cannot appeal an FCC decision to rely on 706 as a basis for prohibiting paid prioritization without arguing that those rules are invalid, which they would be loath to do. Their only possible appeal is to argue that the FCC should have regulated even more heavily, and reclassified under Title II to impose legacy common carrier regulations. The Title II advocates will have a very hard time finding a solid basis on which to challenge what they believe is the “under regulation” of this route: the statutory basis is already blessed, and the record will likely support the regulations proposed.

So don’t believe those who say that further litigation is inevitable. The bottom line is that effective Net Neutrality rules – without further judicial intervention – are within reach, if the FCC takes the Section 706 route it originally proposed.

Source: Verizon Public Policy Blog

Related articles:
What Apple’s new content delivery network means for so-called ‘net neutrality’ – and for you – August 19, 2014
Forget about Net Neutrality; the Net isn’t neutral now, nor will it ever be – June 23, 2014
Is the FCC the wrong agency to handle net neutrality? – June 21, 2014
Obama backs away from ‘Net Neutrality’ campaign promises after U.S. FCC vote – May 16, 2014
U.S. FCC vote on ‘net neutrality’ will kick off long battle – May 13, 2014
Mozilla proposes new version of net neutrality rules – May 6, 2014
FCC to propose new rules for so-called ‘Net Neutrality’; would allow broadband providers to charge companies for speed – April 23, 2014
FCC plans to issue new so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – February 19, 2014
U.S. federal court strikes down FCC’s so-called ‘net-neutrality’ regulations – January 14, 2014


  1. So-called “net neutrality” is a joke no matter how you slice it. It’s not “net neutrality” as you wish it to be. Let the market decide. Hands off. Laissez-faire.

    The U.S. is a center-right country and the FCC along with the rest of the bloated, inefficient, wasteful federal government will now be reigned in just like the petulant, confused, neutered little boy Oblahblah.

    See: 14th U.S. Congress: House of Representatives map

        1. The ‘illegal aliens are voting’ FUD is part of their evil plan to shove out LEGAL voters via their anti-voting laws. SOS: Same Old Shill. If you can’t win: Cheat. Thus the recent election results. Another cheating method: $$$$$$$$$$


          Why the GOP is so obsessed with voter fraud
          The real reason Republicans object to same-day voter registration? Greater turnout will cost them elections

          Those findings confirm a recent analysis of primary, general, special and municipal elections by Loyola University professor Justin Levitt. He found that since 2000, more than a billion ballots have been cast in the United States and there have been just 31 credible incidents of voter fraud.

          In light of that data, Republican efforts to prevent same-day registration and preclude voting betray a fear that has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with political power. Essentially, the GOP fears that when more Americans exercise their basic democratic rights, Republicans may have less chance of winning elections.

          Case closed.
          ∑ = If you didn’t vote, YOU are the problem.

        2. You lie. Repeatedly.

          One of the biggest voter frauds may be the idea promoted by Attorney General Eric Holder and others that there is no voter fraud, that laws requiring voters to have a photo identification are just attempts to suppress black voting.

          A recent survey by Old Dominion University indicates that there are more than a million registered voters who are not citizens, and who therefore are not legally entitled to vote.

          The most devastating account of voter fraud may be in the book “Injustice” by J. Christian Adams. He was a Justice Department attorney, who detailed with inside knowledge the voter frauds known to the Justice Department, and ignored by Attorney General Holder and Company.

          One of these frauds involved sending out absentee ballots to people who had never asked for them. Then a political operator would show up — uninvited — the day the ballots arrived and “help” the voter to fill them out. Sometimes the intruders simply took the ballots, filled them out and forged the signatures of the voters.

          These were illegal votes for Democrats, which may well be why Eric Holder sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil.

          As for race-based “voter suppression,” amid all the political hysteria, how many hard facts have you heard? Probably none that supports that claim. Widely available free photo identification cards mean that poverty is no barrier to voting.

          Since blacks and whites both have to show photo I.D. for everything from cashing checks to getting on a plane, why has requiring a photo I.D. for voting caused such shrill outcries?

          Unfortunately, this is part of the cynical politics of promoting as much racial polarization and paranoia as possible, in hopes of getting more black voters to turn out to vote for the Democrats.

          Nothing is too gross when promoting racial hysteria in an election year. Veteran Democrat Congressman Charlie Rangel from Harlem declared that Republicans “don’t disagree — they hate!” According to Rangel, “Some of them believe that slavery isn’t over and that they won the Civil War!”

          Republicans did win the Civil War. That’s why there is no more slavery. It was a Republican president who issued the Emancipation Proclamation. It was a Republican-controlled Congress that voted for the 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery.

          In the 1960s, a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. If we are going to talk about history, let’s at least get the facts right.

          Only an utter ignorance of history, in this era of dumbed-down education, could allow demagogues like Rangel to get away with the absurdities that abound in election year politics.

          Images of lynching and Jim Crow laws that made blacks sit in the back of buses are used against Republicans, even though the “solid South” was solidly controlled by Democrats during that era.

          Bull Connor, who turned police dogs and fire hoses on civil rights demonstrators, was a Democrat. So were other Southern segregationists. In those days, you could go hundreds of miles through the Jim Crow South without seeing a single Republican official. That is why political observers called it “the solid South.”

          Perhaps the biggest voter fraud of all is the fraud against black voters, by telling them bogey man stories, in order to try to get them to come out on election day to vote for Democrats.

          The most cynical of these bogey man ploys is Attorney General Holder’s threats of legal action against schools that discipline a “disproportionate” number of black boys. Unless you believe that black boys cannot possibly be misbehaving more often than Asian American girls, what does this political numbers game accomplish?

          It creates another racial grievance, allowing Democrats like Holder to pose as rescuers of blacks from racist dangers. The real danger is allowing disruptive students in ghetto schools to destroy the education of other black students — in a world where education is the only hope that most ghetto youngsters have for a better life.

          Sacrificing these young people’s futures, in hopes of gaining some additional black votes today, is as cynical and fraudulent as it gets.Thomas Sowell, Nov. 4, 2014

        3. Hey Derek,

          Did you see this?

          “Former Mayor Patrick D. Cannon, convicted in June of federal wire fraud in a bribery sting, will be on house arrest until he reports to federal prison after illegally voting in the midterm election.”

          I guess Democrat’s don’t opposed illegal voting because they are to busy doing it.

        4. So that would make 32 credible instances of voter fraud since 2000? Talk about ‘THE SKY IS FALLING!’ OMFG let’s enact voter ID laws immediately!!!

          You dummies. Same old rhetoric. Same old 1 dimensional thinking.

          Oh and NEVER pretend I’ve got anything good to say about Democrats. Get outside the box or look the fool.

        5. Actually Derek is right and no amount of pontificating is going to make it wrong. The republican push for voter fraud protection basically affects people likely to vote Democratic.

          The same is true of all the gerrymandering of voting districts rather than just use census data.

          20whatever, actually I think its good that the republicians won this time around. Given their control over congress, we can have that wonderful country they promised and it should happen in the next 30-60 days. If it gets worse, they will spout about how bad the Obama administration made things…. like the low gas costs and the lower unemployment rates….. cause…….well……. cause its always someone else fault.

          Just saying.

        6. Considering it was Obama’s policies in the first place that caused the unemployment to increase, its only fitting that HE HAD to get it to go lower, so how did it go lower….They removed those people unemployed over the 99 weeks of benefits to fall off the roster!!!! How’s that for underhanded tactics!

      1. Wow, non of those groups can vote. OK technically some on food stamps can. However most food stamps go to help feed children. The lazy drunks that take advantage of the system are to stupid to vote.
        Just remember the woman who wrote the books on your beliefs wound up losing her money and had to survive on Social Security.

    1. Maps that take no account of population density can’t really be used to prove points with regards to political affiliation.

      Besides, as with all elections, the pendulum always swings back the other way eventually. That’s democracy.

      1. Two parties that basically have very similar policies with so much money power that another candidate is quickly “squished” by the established powers is NOT a democracy. Clinton, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama/Clinton,……is not a democracy.

        1. We aren’t a democracy. We are a Republic. S’ok. It’s a common mistake. You are still right. I see little difference in the two parties other than some rhetoric. As much as I dislike Obama’s leftists views and rhetoric, there is no denying that his continuity of policy with Bush was extremely high. Only is meaningless lip service to political identity groups did he differ. Even in those cases it was a reverse of his previously held positions.

      2. You’re right. Representation in the House is supposed to be related to population, not surface area. In fact, area is irrelevant in our representative government. Representation in the Senate is based on political boundaries, i.e., the several states. A similar map concept for the Senate would be just a little over 50% red, the final percentage is still unknown.

        1. No, you’re both wrong. The map posted above shows the congressional districts and with which party their elected representatives align. It has nothing to do with population density because more populous districts are usually smaller than less populous (and usually rural) districts.

          But the number of House Representatives is based off of the number of districts, and if nothing else, this map shows that there are far more red districts than blue. And that is accurate.

        2. As far as the map goes. It does delineate that in each of the red states, a small percentage of actual citizens in each district are registered Republican and a small number are Democrats. The majority of people don’t vote at all or are independents. So this map isn’t representative of actual facts either. A pox on both political parties — you only speak for a small number of Americans.

        3. I just looked at the numbers in NC: Tillis won his “decisive victory” with 0.5% more votes (% of registered voters) than Hagan. In a state of ~10,000,000 people, TIllis had 48k more votes.

          If it weren’t for egregious gerrymandering, that map of the US House would be much more balanced.

        4. Some districts, while spread out all over empty ranch land, rural farm country, small towns and federal desert, have a relatively small number of people in them, but each one gets a representative of its own in Congress… while major population centers with many times the population are lucky to have three or four reps. Then, add in the gerrymandering by redrawing districts (even with bizarre boundaries) to gather all the Democratic voters and minority populations into a single district, and you’ve got quite a few states where the total votes for Democrats exceeded the votes for Republicans, statewide… yet those states sent mostly Republicans to Congress. It’s clearly rigged so the minority (Republicans) can hang onto power as long as possible. They also need low turnouts as a rule, and voter ID laws are one tool to try to limit the poor and minorites, among others from easily exercising their Constitutional right to vote… but, there will come a time when none of it will help. Changing demographics are here to stay, and soon enough the Republican bag of tricks will be empty. That’s assuming the Republican party doesn’t self-destruct on its own before that.

    2. yes, i too look forward to reigning in a wasteful federal government,

      who the heck needs any oversight of wall street and the banking industry,they have done such a good job.

      no need for the fda. regulation of drugs and food quality are totally unnecessary, we know our corporate drug and food providers will do whats right. they never cut corners, falsify or fudge drug tests or butcher sick cows or hogs and put them into the food chain. (and then lobby states to make it a crime for employees or undercover investigators to bring these acts to public notice)

      epa ? totally unnecessary ! who wants clean air or water ? just lefty socialist-communist un american wimps trying to destroy our economy. fracking? so what if the chemicals pollute our aquifers, we can always buy bottled water.

      why , heck, the burning flaming cayuhoga river of 1969 probably saved the citizens a bunch of money since they didn’t need streetlights to drive at night.

      laissez faire is wonderful, its like a time machine ! lets all rush back to the 19th or maybe ever 18th century.

      it will be so much fun!!

      i can hardly wait !!!!

      1. You forgot about the FAA. Let’s have the airlines regulate their own safety. And the FBI. Who needs federal law enforcement? Everyone should provide for their own safety and law enforcement. And down with the TSA. Let’s go back to private contractors screen security (whose employees sleeping when 19 terrorists walked onto airplanes). No Department of Homeland Security either. Private companies will patrol our borders, deal with immigration and deportation. No SEC. Let insiders trade and profit as much as they want to the detriment of other investors. No FTC either. Monopolies, after all, are the logical conclusion of a free market; in fact, they should be legalized. And, of course, above all, no regulation of the financial markets. Let AIG, BofA, Citibank, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs go under next time with no bailouts and take the entire economy down with them. And finally, no IRS because no one will be taxed for anything.

        In our secular age, our new God is Money, and Free Markets it’s Gospel. And if you’re poor or elderly and you need a social safety net, serfdom awaits.

        What a beautiful world it would be!!!

    3. The U.S. is not a center right country.

      Repeatedly in polling, when citizens are asked about issues without party labels and talking point words like death tax, they show a significant amount of support for what would be described as liberal or progressive policy. When party labels and talking point words are applied, there is a noticeable shift in the polling.

      Otherwise, Republicans are very good at framing, PR and have dominated mass media in the U.S. for about 30 years now, after deregulation of media. There is no liberal bias in media- it ranges from center right to far right.

      1. In fact, let me stress this again. In order to effective understand what is going on with Net Neutrality, you need a good understanding of Internet Backbones vs. Content Providers, vs. Peering relationships, vs. Edge Networks, vs. Content Delivery networks and so on. The Internet is not just one big cloud to which we are all attached as is often perceived by Net Neutrality Proponents. As the article says:



      2. Most Americans think of themselves, politically, as at the center or right of center.

        Americans are more apt to self-identify as conservatives than as liberals.

        Overall, Wyoming is the most conservative state. Other top red states are Mississippi, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Oklahoma Tennessee, and Alabama. Only the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Vermont have more liberals than conservatives.

        In 2013, the U.S., conservatives outnumbered liberals nearly 2-1 (38% vs. 23%, Gallup, Jan. 2-Dec. 29, 2013, random telephone sample of 178,527 adults, margin of error is +/- 6 percentage points). With the results of the Republican Tsunami midterm elections of 2014 now plainly evident, conservatives have likely increased and liberals decreased in 2014 America.

        Again, I deliver facts, not invented, disingenuous fantasies: Gallup: A Clear Majority Of Americans Are Ideologically At The Center Or Right Of Center

        1. Look at the list of states that approved a Minimum age increase and then look at how they voted- for Republicans who oppose the very idea of a minimum wage.

          Today’s GOP is good at hoodwinking poorly educated low information voters to vote against their own interest. Most of the south is economically dependent upon Washington and pays a negative net tax, yet sends people to DC who squawk about bootstraps and fiscal restraint.

        2. Take away the labels, and poll people on the actual issues, and most Americans are center or slightly left of center. Who cares what someone calls themselves? Most of the draconian laws proposed by the Republicans have been rejected, even by those who claim to be conservative. And the courts, even the Supreme Court, which certainly isn’t liberal, have reversed many of the restrictive laws Republicans have passed in several states. Just because someone may consider themselves conservative vs. liberal, that means little when they are faced with individual issues spelled out in non-partisan terms. Sadly, our political system relies on dividing us into red or blue, when there are a hell of a lot of colors in between.

      3. i think that republicans have become highly polished professionals in the art-form of bait and switch.

        they appeal to people on the basis of values issues, thus they attract people through appealing to their patriotism, their religious beliefs, their distrust of government, in general and big government in particular, and of course the topper…they pledge to reduce taxes !

        who doesn’t like that ?

        but then they pursue tax, fiscal and economic policies that cut the legs right out from under the very working class people who they work so hard to attract and instead pursue policies that benefit the wealthy and powerful- who never complain about big government – especially when it gives then huge tax cuts and bails out banks and corporations with taxpayer money, in which they are heavily invested.

        eventually i hope that middle and working class people realize that they are very cunningly being convinced to vote against their own best interests.

        without a strong and vibrant middle class this nation is sunk. if things get bad the wealthy always have the resources to bail and go someplace safer and warmer, leaving the mess to the rest of us to deal with.

        1. Oh please. And Democrats haven’t done exactly the same thing, but with promising either the same stuff (more jobs, better healthcare, etc.) or by promising the government will give you more stuff?

          They’re all professional politicians who are “highly polished professionals”, and almost all work in some form of bait-and-switch.

        2. you did not see me praising democrats did you?

          they are every bit as ethically compromised as the republicans

          i recall back in the day when i was pleased that bill clinton and robert rubin made it a major goal to pay down the national debt… only to discover that those two guys helped lead the charge on deregulation of the banking industry, and removal of the glass-stegall act that helped trigger the economic meltdown we all went through.

          they have plenty to answer for and yeah they are as nearly as hypocritical as the republicans. i sure didn’t see the obama justice department go after the banksters like they should have

          but in the overall scheme of things it probably is fair to say that in the long run they do show a closer affinity for the interests of middle and working class americans, and for a cleaner and healthier physical environment.

          they have no claim on my loyalty. only a recognition that there are those that are worse than them.

    4. I agree with you. To a point. I’m completely against the Title 2 nonsense. One big problem with Net Neutrality is that it no longer makes sense. There are aspects of Net Neutrality that would result in a worse Internet for end users and especially users of particular services like Netflix.

      The serious issue is that most Net Neutrality proponents have no freaking idea how the Internet works.

      This is possibly the best explanation of the issue I’ve seen as it stands at this moment:


      If you have an opinion or not, you should read this article.

    5. Fine, the Neo-Con-Jobs have another two years to further RUIN my country beyond the level of PROFOUNDLY-FRACKED, with the ire of the world upon it.

      Can we PLEASE stay on subject now? Can your massive, swelling ego PLEASE abide with that? Huh?!

  2. And rightfully so. The Obama administration has run amok. Every chance to reign them in and force them to obey the boundaries of the Constitution should be welcomed by the people. These are decisions that should be made legislatively with congress in the lead. If President Obama can’t get things done legally then he should resign from office.

    1. Should. But instead he is promising to (again) do things without the approval of Congress. He really does think he’s a dictator with all power. And we’ve allowed him to do so, and even reelected him. Forget about “What’s wrong with him?”! What’s wrong with us?!

  3. Boy, have you folks gotten off track.

    Maybe the discussion here should get back to whether or not the internet should be a regulated utility or completely unregulated, or somewhere in between.

    I guess my question is, do you think Verizon’s interests are really the same as millions of single internet users? If not, how do you think these competing interests should be balanced?

    1. The Internet should not be a regulated utility . It currently stands as a glowing example of free market principles and spontaneous order.

      There should be close watch on companies like AT&T, Veriszon, Time Warner, Comcast, to make sure that EXISTING anti-trust laws are not broken.

      It would be very easy for us to legislate ourselves into the dark ages with the Internet.

      We need to understand that so called “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” already exist and the terminology is meaningless. My download speed is 300Mb/s but by some Net Neutrality proponents definitions, that puts me in the slow lane because Netflix is paying for colocation of their own servers.

      Net Neutrality as a goal has lost form and shape. If anything we need to document the types of activities we want to make sure that edge service providers do not violate with us. We want to block things like throttling types of traffic, or service providers introducing competitive services and impeding our access to competitors. That sort of thing.

  4. First, the Verizon blog is not saying Verizon will sue the FCC. What it is saying is that the FCC has basically been given a roadmap by the US District Court that it must use Section 706 as a basis for any Net Neutrality rules, or any action it takes may be beyond its authority and therefore illegal. Verizon is making the public argument via its blog, and a warning to the FCC, that the FCC had better issue its Net Neutrality rules under Section 706 or it could get sued from many or all of the interested parties (Verizon possibly included).

    The real problem with the paid prioritization model/theory is that there isn’t excess bandwidth laying around waiting to be used and which can be allocated to provide faster download speeds for services like Netflix if only someone would pay for it. Any paid prioritization must come at the loss of speed by those who do not pay, but who have already paid for certain bandwidth and speed promises from their ISPs.

    ISPs are adding speed and bandwidth as it makes financial sense for them to do so and as technologies emerge which make it cost-effective. At least in areas where there is competition for internet services. But there is no competition for paid prioritization, only ISPs wanting to charge companies like Netflix more for Netflix’s content being able to travel their dumb pipes.

    1. To repeat an observation I’ve made before, the idea that the free market will solve all our problems ignores the lack of effective competition in much of America. I live less than 20 miles from places in Austin that have competing 100 megabyte (and even gigabit) ISPs. I’m also only about a mile from the Verizon Communications switch serving an area with almost 100,000 residents. I have the fastest service they provide to my location: 3.5 down, 0.8 up on a good dry day. Enough said.

  5. YEAH Yeah yeah. Verizon leads the charge to FRACK-UP Net Neutrality. Nothing new. They threatened to sue the FCC before.

    THE SOLUTION: #ReclassifyTheInternet

    If it happens, whatever consequences, blame yourself, stupid Verizon parasite dickhead rectal pore scum. 😛

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