Free Press Sues FCC, Says Neutrality Rules Don't Protect Wireless Users

The Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules aren't just under attack by broadband providers and Republican lawmakers. Advocacy group Free Press also is mounting a challenge to the rules for not going far enough to protect consumers.

Specifically, the group argues that the FCC gave wireless carriers too much leeway in deciding how to handle online traffic.

The rules, which the FCC passed by a 3-2 vote last December, prohibit all carriers from blocking or degrading traffic. The rules also ban wireline providers from engaging in unreasonable discrimination. While that term is somewhat ambiguous, it appears to include paid prioritization deals, which involve a company paying a carrier more for fast-lane service. Wireless carriers, however, aren't subject to those same restrictions against unreasonable discrimination.

Free Press argues that the FCC shouldn't have adopted different standards for wireless and wireline providers. "Free Press seeks review on the grounds that this decision violates the Communications Act of 1934, or other statutes, and is arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law," the group says in papers filed today with the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

Free Press won't be the only one to challenge the rules in court. Verizon has also vowed to sue -- though for different reasons. Verizon argues that the FCC lacks authority to enact neutrality regulations regarding broadband because it's classified as an information service, and not a telecommunications service.

Verizon and MetroPCS already went to court once in an attempt to nix the regulations, but their lawsuit was premature because the FCC hadn't yet published the rules in the Federal Register. The rules were finally published late last week, clearing the way for lawsuits.

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