Public Knowledge Seeks To Defend Neutrality Rules In Court

broadband globe Advocacy group Public Knowledge, a leading proponent of open Internet rules, filed court papers on Wednesday seeking to intervene in Verizon's lawsuit to block the new neutrality regulations.

The group says in its papers that it represents members "who would be adversely affected by a reversal" of the neutrality rules because their businesses rely on access to the Web. Therefore, Public Knowledge argues, it's entitled to defend the legality of the Federal Communications Commission's neutrality regulations.

Public Knowledge's approach stands in contrast to that taken by the neutrality advocates at Free Press, who are seeking a court order forcing the Federal Communications Commission to strengthen the rules.

The FCC voted 3-2 last December to enact neutrality requirements that prevent all broadband providers -- wired and wireless -- from blocking traffic or discriminating against competing apps and services.

The rules also prohibit wireline providers from engaging in unreasonable discrimination, including deals that would allow content providers to pay extra for fast-lane treatment. But wireless providers don't face the same ban on unreasonable discrimination.

Some neutrality advocates, ranging from groups like Free Press to Democratic lawmakers like Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), have criticized portions the rules for that reason.

Telecoms, however, say the rules are too restrictive. Verizon filed suit last week in an attempt to stop the regulations from taking effect. The company will almost certainly argue that the FCC lacks authority to regulate broadband because it's an "information" service rather than a telecommunications service.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia already ruled in another case that the FCC lacks authority to enforce neutrality rules. In that matter, the appellate court vacated an sanctioning on Comcast for throttling peer-to-peer traffic.

Public Knowledge's legal director, Harold Feld, stated that the organization is seeking to intervene because it wants to defend the FCC's authority to enact rules, as well as the rules themselves. "We believe the public will be better served by having rules in place and by having a Commission complaint process in place."

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