The Republican-led FCC doesn’t want to stop telecoms from discriminating when it comes Internet traffic. Now, the Trump Administration and telecoms are suing California over its new net neutrality law to make sure the state doesn’t dictate an open Internet either.
The Justice Department filed suit last week. Trade associations representing such broadband providers as Comcast also filed a suit looking to block the California law. According to CNN:
On Sunday evening, California Governor Jerry Brown signed what is considered to be the strictest net neutrality law in the country. Under the law, internet service providers will not be allowed to block or slow specific types of content or applications, or charge apps or companies fees for faster access to customers.
Hours later, the federal government filed a lawsuit in which it alleged that California was “attempting to subvert the Federal Government’s deregulatory approach” to the internet. The DOJ argues states can’t pass their own laws governing internet companies, because broadband services cross state lines. It is fighting the state over a clause in the 2017 order repealingObama-era federal net neutrality protections. In that order, the FCC said it could pre-empt state-level net neutrality laws.
The impending legal battle could drag on for many months if not longer, Daniel Lyons, an associate professor at Boston College Law School who specializes in telecommunications and Internet regulation, told CNN.
But it could be tough for the feds to win the net neutrality fight, according to The Verge:
“We are confident that we will prevail in this case—because the facts are on our side,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
But critics of the administration’s frontal assault on consumer protections say that’s wishful thinking, and the entire industry effort hinges on a shaky FCC legal gambit that isn’t likely to succeed.
Foreseeing state challenges to their attack on federal oversight, lobbyists for both Comcastand Verizon last year successfully urged the FCC to include language in its net neutrality repeal “pre-empting” (read: banning) states from protecting consumers moving forward.
But by forfeiting its authority, the FCC may have opened the broadband industry to state regulation.