The umbrella group Open Internet Coalition is attempting to join the legal fray regarding the new neutrality regulations, which are slated to take effect in less than three weeks.
The organization, which includes eBay, Google, IAC and Skype, this week filed papers to intervene in a case that could determine whether the regulations are valid. “The Commission’s rules protect investment, innovation, and competition by preserving and protecting an open Internet,” the group argues in its papers, filed this week with an appellate court in Washington.
The rules -- approved 3-2 last December -- prohibit wireline providers from blocking or degrading traffic or otherwise engaging in unreasonable discrimination. The regulations also ban wireless providers from blocking sites or competing applications. But the rules don't prevent wireless companies from creating fast lanes for companies that pay extra.
While some consumer advocates argue that the rules don't go far enough, many telecoms object to the regulations. Verizon felt strongly enough to ask an appeals court to nix the rules. The telecom argues that the FCC lacks authority to issue rules regarding Web traffic.
Verizon could well find a receptive audience, given that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia already said the FCC can't regulate “information” services. Last year, the appeals court vacated an FCC ruling imposing sanctions on Comcast for throttling peer-to-peer traffic. Because the FCC had previously classified broadband as an information service, the agency couldn't enforce neutrality principles, the court ruled.
Meantime, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) repeated her call for the Senate to vote against the regulations in a resolution of disapproval. “If ever there was a ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ situation, it is this one,” she reportedly said today.
The House has already passed a similar resolution, but observers doubt that the Democratic Senate will do likewise.