Verizon: FCC Neutrality Regulations An 'Abuse'

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Following through on its threat to challenge net neutrality rules in court, Verizon on Thursday filed suit against the Federal Communications Commission. In court papers filed with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Verizon alleges that the FCC exceeded its authority by voting to promulgate open Internet rules. The telecom giant also argues that the new rules are "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion."

The FCC's controversial open Internet rules prohibit wireline providers from blocking or degrading traffic or otherwise engaging in unreasonable discrimination. The order also prohibits wireless providers from blocking sites or competing applications, but doesn't prohibit wireless carriers from creating fast lanes for companies that pay extra.

The rules -- which the FCC approved by a 3-2 vote in December -- drew criticism from many observers, ranging from consumer advocates, who say the rules don't go far enough to telecoms, who say that regulation will discourage investment and innovation. Verizon immediately vowed to challenge the rules in court.

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The telecom giant isn't alone in trying to ax the new rules. The Republican leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee also aims to vacate them. An Energy and Commerce Committee memo circulated this week lists nullifying net neutrailty as among this year's priorities. Congress has the power to vacate the FCC's rules, but only if a majority of the House and Senate vote to do so within 60 days of the regulations' official publication. The FCC has not yet published its order in the Federal Register, but is expected to do so soon.

The committee, now under the leadership of Fred Upton (R-Mich.), also intends to hold hearings "on the harm regulation of the Internet will cause to investment, innovation and jobs, as well as the FCC's abuse of authority and process," according to the memo.

Some lawmakers also are gearing up to legislate against neutrality laws. Earlier this month, Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill that would strip the FCC of authority to regulate the Internet. Her measure -- which has garnered support from 60 other Congress members -- would ban the FCC from issuing "any regulations regarding the Internet or IP-enabled services."

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