Tuesday, October 1, 2019
The Fight Over Net Neutrality is Just Beginning
On October 1, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued its decision in Mozilla Corporation vs Federal Communications Commission, a case that challenged the FCC's 2018 repeal of network neutrality rules. The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a petitioner in the case. The following statement may be attributed to Benton Senior Counselor Andrew Jay Schwartzman:
It will take a while to fully digest 186 pages of opinions. However, even on a quick reading, it is clear that the fight over net neutrality is just beginning. The FCC can try to fix its mistakes, but the court made it clear that the Commission cannot block states from passing their own net neutrality statutes and issuing executive orders. Those will have to be reviewed case by case.
The decision thus provides a roadmap to rules that can protect the promise of a vibrant internet that serves people, not the big cable and telecom companies.
There is broad public support for the principle that broadband internet access service providers should not be able to discriminate to benefit themselves or favored customers at the expense of other speakers and customers.
This is the fourth time in just the last few months in which the Trump appointees on the FCC have been reversed in court. Together, these decisions reveal a pattern of rushing to judgment based on a predetermined outcome rather than reasoned consideration of the facts and the law.
The decisions mentioned above are:
National Lifeline Association v. FCC (attempting to limit Lifeline support for tribal nations) United Keetoowah Band v. FCC (attempting to exempt small cell deployment from environmental and historic preservation laws) and Prometheus Radio Project v. FCC (attempting to lift broadcast ownership limits without assessing the impact on ownership by people of color and women)
(In this case, Schwartzman represents the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, one of the Petitioners in the D.C. Circuit, in his capacity as its Senior Counselor. Schwartzman also filed an amicus brief for Consumer Reports in his capacity as a member of Georgetown University Law Center's Communications Law and Technology Clinic.)
The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people in the U.S. have access to competitive, High-Performance Broadband regardless of where they live or who they are. We believe communication policy - rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity - has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities.
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