Verizon Sues To Block Neutrality Rules

Verizon sued the Federal Communications Commission on Friday in an attempt to stop the new open Internet rules from taking effect.

The telecom argues that the FCC lacks authority to regulate broadband. In addition, Verizon says, the rules are arbitrary, capricious and unconstitutional. The company is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to vacate the regulations.

The regulations 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 does not prohibit wireless carriers from creating fast lanes for companies that pay extra.

The rules -- which were approved by a 3-2 vote at the FCC last 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 previously attempted to challenge the FCC's neutrality regulations in court, but the case was dismissed as premature because the rules had not yet been published in the Federal Register. The rules were finally published last week and are slated to take effect on Nov. 20, unless blocked by a court.

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The appellate court where Verizon filed its case has already ruled in a different lawsuit that the FCC lacks authority to enforce neutrality rules. In that matter, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated an FCC ruling imposing sanctions on Comcast for throttling peer-to-peer traffic.

The FCC ruled that Comcast's traffic-shaping plan violated the neutrality principle that consumers should be able to access all lawful online content, but the appellate court said that the FCC couldn't enforce that principle because it had classified broadband as an "information" service rather than a telecommunications service.

Some neutrality advocates are also challenging the rules on the theory that the FCC shouldn't have crafted different regulations for wireless and wireline carriers. Earlier this week Free Press filed suit against the FCC in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

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