U.S. FCC’s rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ expected to unleash slew of court challenges

“The Federal Communications Commission’s plan for regulating how Internet providers treat traffic on their networks is expected to unleash a number of court challenges and put pressure on Congress to settle the legal morass through legislation,” Siobhan Hughes reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“Republicans in Congress oppose the rules, which are expected to be approved by the FCC on Thursday, saying they represent heavy-handed regulation that could stifle a fast-changing industry. But they see a silver lining in the FCC’s action: The resulting legal battles, they say, will prompt what both parties say is a badly needed update of telecommunications laws,” Hughes reports. “A senior Republican with jurisdiction over the issue said Wednesday that his fight was anything but over.”

“‘I think that the Democrats are going to realize what a disaster this is and will be a lot more anxious to work with us on a legislative solution after tomorrow when the FCC issues their order,’ said Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee,” Hughes reports. “Many Democrats have rallied around the regulations, which are embraced by the populist wing of their base. But Republicans including Mr. Thune expect that Democrats will change their thinking once they realize the legal threat and consider the possibility that a Republican president in 2017 could appoint a new FCC that could simply overturn the rules.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
EFF: ‘We are deeply concerned; FCC’s new rules include provision that sounds like a recipe for overreach’ – February 25, 2015
The U.S. FCC’s Orwellian Internet policy – February 25, 2015
Democratic FCC commissioner balks at so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – February 24, 2015
FCC chief pressed to release proposed regulations governing so-called ‘net neutrality’ – February 23, 2015
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai: Obama’s plan a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet – February 10, 2015
Congress launches investigation as Republicans claim Obama had ‘improper influence’ over so-called ‘net neutrality’ – February 7, 2015
FCC chairman proposes to regulate ISP’s under Title II – February 4, 2015
U.S. congressional Republicans’ bill aims to head off Obama’s so-called ‘net neutrality’ plan – January 17, 2015
U.S. Congressional proposal offers Internet rules of the road – January 15, 2015
U.S. FCC says it will vote on so-called ‘net neutrality’ in February – January 3, 2015
FCC hopes its rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ survive inevitable litigation – November 22, 2014
Obama-appointed FCC chairman distances himself from Obama on so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 12, 2014
What does so-called ‘net neutrality’ mean for Apple? – November 12, 2014
AT&T to pause fiber investment until net neutrality rules are decided – November 12, 2014
There’s no one to root for in the debate over so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 11, 2014
U.S. FCC plays Russian Roulette with so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 11, 2014
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner: Republicans will continue efforts to stop misguided scheme to regulate the Internet – November 10, 2014
Tech Freedom: Obama cynically exploits confusion over Title II, misses opportunity to lead on legislative deal – November 10, 2014
Obama want FCC to regulate the Internet; Cruz calls it ‘Obamacare for the Internet’ – November 10, 2014


  1. We know 322 pages of ruling is going to contain some nasty bombshells one way or the other. How unsurprising that Media Oligarchy lobbyist Thomas Wheeler has kept the document entirely secret from the public before the vote.

    Here is the day we begin to find out what’s in the terrible tome and whether it’s approved.

    1. Barack Obama does not believe in run of the mill people having a chance to review regulations that will change their lives. He is the dictator. He just issues orders. So just lie back and enjoy it. Then, as Bill Clinton said to Kathleen Willey, “you got a nasty bruise on your face. You might want to put some ice on it.”

      1. I think he is exhibiting normal intelligence. The ones who have lost their minds are the ones who think it wise to give up a wide open completely free internet and turn it into something like the NJ Turnpike, with toll booths every 5 miles, police hidden in the weeds catching people who do things Obama does not like, and hidden cameras on every overpass watching your every internet move and charging you with fees and taxes that were never there before. All brought to you by the New American Fidel – Barack Hussein Obama (the guy with the huge ears)

    1. Right. Whether we like it or not, we are at the point where *something* must be done. In it’s early days, the web did a great job of outpacing corporate America and leveraging people’s freedoms, but that balance has shifted in the other direction as time has gone by, rather rapidly since the maturation of social media. I don’t want an www that is essentially cable TV from the 90s. It’s amazing how tenaciously those bastards will hold onto their fear of change instead of evolving and creating wealth by creating legitimate benefit – bear in mind that this is only in question to begin with because the telcos that got burned by the communications reclassification *last* century have found ways to reestablish their corrupt practices through a modern medium.

      Whether or not Wheeler’s plan is the answer remains to be seen, but make no mistake: we do need the protection.

      1. Think of the Internet as North America before the Europeans came. Think of the government as the Europeans. The rest of us, the users of the Internet, we are the Native Americans. We are unfortunately divided into tribes. We need to be joining forces and doing everything we can to stop the Europeans, uh, I mean government from gaining a foothold, because once they gain it, it’s over for us.

        No one in their right minds should want to provide footholds for Federal Governance over any aspect of the Internet. There are existing antitrust laws in place that prevent the scenarios you’re worried about.

        The government currently chooses not to enforce those laws because they want the people to be angry and demand they take control of the Internet.

        Trust me, you don’t want this to happen.

        It doesn’t take 322 pages to express Net Neutrality. It should take 1 page. 2 pages max. You hit 3 pages and something is already suspicious.

        It’s the dreaded 9 words, “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.”

        Even the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a bunch of lawyers, sees this. They’re not cable shills by any stretch of the imagination.

        1. Thel, the problem is that you’re a hundred years too late.

          The legacy utilities (electric & phone) were granted public right-of-ways for infrastructure decades ago for free, and with basically no real rules (nor feduciary responsibility) to manage that public resource for the public good.

          Today, no Municipaility will tolerate any new company to come in to install their own (redundant) set of poles on public land (“NIMBY – its ugly!”). This policy gives the current pole owners complete control over who is granted pole space …and it is on what is now viewed as “their” pole – – the public interests be damned. There’s your restriction of competition which is long overdue for intervention by the landowner (the public), to basically reset the accountability to require that the poles be managed for the greater good of the public. Title II is a legal authority by which this can happen without any new laws – – but only if there’s the political will to actually serve the public.

  2. The FCC is going to do to the Internet what Obamacare did to healthcare – screw it up royally.

    There is no public outcry for gov’t intervention in the Internet. Who cares about fast lanes – if you’re going to suck up a lot of bandwidth you should pay for it.

    This idea that you can get something for free is immature and asinine. Nothing is free.

    But these rules are not about making the Internet fair. It’s about control and the ability for the gov’t to have more ways to shut down dissenters.

    Liberals hate intelligent debate which is why they always shout “the debate is settled” even while evidence appears to the contrary.

    1. Utter BS. You act as though our healthcare was something wonderful, it’s the #1 cause of bankruptcy, even amongst those who HAVE insurance! Our healthcare costs a minimum of double ever other developed country (Japan is about half of ours in cost, and they get everything covered, and the doctor comes to you), but we don’t get double the care of other countries. And who said anything about free internet? Straw man argument.

      1. Remenber you babies sniping at Bush … You remember the ‘chimp’ remarks, right? Well, I didn’t whine you assbaby. Payback is a bitch, ain’t it? I say we dump the current primate.

    1. I’m going to post what little has been revealed about Whatever-It-Is as I can find them. Don’t count on them being verified facts, just stuff people published.

      1) Title II now applies to cellular Internet carriers as well as wired/everyone else. √ Sounds good to me! As per Stephen Melkisethian at Ars Technica:

      The most controversial part of the FCC’s decision reclassifies fixed and mobile broadband as a telecommunications service, with providers to be regulated as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.

      2) Wheeler also said putting rules in place will give network operators the certainty they need to keep investing. – – This has actually been a huge ongoing problem as the ISPs were not even using money they’d been handed by the feds to upgrade and extend broadband. Instead they just sat on it and ate it while raising prices. √ Sounds good to me!

      3) ISP blocking of apps on mobile devices will end. – – This is a bit vague to me. We’ll see what it means later apparently.

      4) “Core Net Neutrality Provisions”. From what’s assumed so far, this √ Sounds good to me! According to Stephen Melkisethian at Ars Technica:

      The core net neutrality provisions are bans on blocking and throttling traffic, a ban on paid prioritization, and a requirement to disclose network management practices. Broadband providers will not be allowed to block or degrade access to legal content, applications, services, and non-harmful devices or favor some traffic over others in exchange for payment. There are exceptions for “reasonable network management” and certain data services that don’t use the “public Internet.” Those include heart monitoring services and the Voice over Internet Protocol services offered by home Internet providers…. The reasonable network management exception applies to blocking and throttling but not paid prioritization.

      5) Beyond Net Neutrality Title II Requirements. – – This stuff sounds like a mixed bag and will require both evaluation and experience to evaluate IMHO. According to Stephen Melkisethian at Ars Technica:

      There are provisions to investigate consumer complaints, privacy rules, and protections for people with disabilities. Content providers and network operators who connect to ISPs’ networks can complain to the FCC about “unjust and unreasonable” interconnection rates and practices. There are also rules guaranteeing ISPs access to poles and other infrastructure controlled by utilities, potentially making it easier to enter new markets.

      6) There is also a “general conduct” standard designed to judge whether future activity not contemplated by the order harms end users or online content providers.

      7) The Surprises. Yet to be revealed…

      1. Excellent write up.

        Ars Technica is one of the few sites one can go to and get reliable technical info from people who understand things at a deep systems level and or at a developer level. Being a serious developer, I can attest to that.

        They’ve shown themselves to be care more about tech truth than any one tech platform and and more than any one political philosophy.

        I feel your comments show a similar sensibility.

        We certainly can’t be clear that this is all good news, but It looks a lot like what net neutrality is supposed to look like and seems, at least initially, to be a positive.

  3. The FCC separately did this today:

    FCC overturns state laws that protect ISPs from local competition
    Municipal broadband networks could expand because of FCC’s controversial vote.

    The Federal Communications Commission today voted to preempt state laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that prevent municipal broadband providers from expanding outside their territories. . . .

    “You can’t say you’re for broadband and then turn around and endorse limits on who can offer it,” Wheeler said today. “You can’t say, ‘I want to follow the explicit instructions of Congress to remove barriers to infrastructure investment,’ but endorse barriers on infrastructure investment. You can’t say you’re for competition but deny local elected officials the right to offer competitive choices.”

    1. This is a very important provision and one that I hope will bring more service providers into locations that now offer only one monopoly provider. You know, create competition that might improve service quality and lower cost? But I fully expect that the courts and both parties in Congress will kowtow to their corporate masters and emasculate this provision ASAP. So much for open, free markets.

      1. Where I live, thankfully, the city government is pursuing the expansion of their municipal (government only) Internet service to the entire city. As long as the quality is great (which it supposedly is) I’ll happily be dumping Time Warner Cable and avoiding Verizon (who locally are lunatics).

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