Tech Companies Prep Challenge To Net Neutrality Repeal

The Silicon Valley lobbying group Internet Association intends to challenge the repeal of the net neutrality rules in court, the organization said Friday.

The net neutrality order, passed last month by the Federal Communications Commission and released in written form on Thursday, "defies the will of a bipartisan majority of Americans and fails to preserve a free and open internet," Internet Association President Michael Beckerman stated.

Last month, the FCC voted 3-2 to repeal rules passed in 2015 that prohibited broadband providers from blocking or throttling traffic and from charging higher fees for prioritized delivery.

The Internet Association -- which counts companies like Amazon, Google, eBay and Facebook as members -- opposed that move last year. The organization argued last year that the rules benefited consumers as well as businesses, and in a possible preview of its court challenge, said the FCC had no legal basis to reverse a decision made just two years ago. The group added that Supreme Court precedent requires the FCC to show it has good reasons to reverse course.

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Other net neutrality proponents, including various state attorneys general and advocacy groups, have also vowed to challenge the repeal in court.

Beckerman added that the Internet Association will continue to "push to restore strong, enforceable net neutrality protections through a legislative solution.”

Late last year, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) introduced a bill to partially restore the rules by prohibiting broadband providers from blocking or throttling legal content, applications or services. But net neutrality proponents, including lawmakers like Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and advocacy groups like Free Press, say Blackburn's proposal is inadequate because it would allow providers to charge companies higher fees for prioritized delivery of their material.

Polls have shown broad consumer support for open Internet principles. Last June, Mozilla reported that a survey it conducted with Ipsos found that 81% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans support net neutrality principles. A separate poll conducted this year found that 60% of registered voters (61% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans) support net neutrality rules.

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