Free Press Sues To Restore Net Neutrality

In an attempt to restore the net neutrality rules, consumer advocacy group Free Press Thursday filed suit against the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC's decision to rescind the Obama-era rules was "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion," Free Press contends in papers filed with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The advocacy group wants the court to vacate the FCC's decision and reinstate the Obama-era rules, which classified broadband as a utility service and imposed some common carrier regulations -- including prohibitions on blocking or throttling traffic, and on charging companies higher fees for prioritized delivery.

In December, the Republican-led FCC voted 3-2 to revoke those rules. That decision won't take effect for at least another two months.

Chairman Ajit Pai, who backed the repeal, argued that the old regulations were too heavy-handed, and depressed investment. But consumer advocates and other net neutrality proponents argue that the rules are necessary to prevent Comcast, AT&T and other broadband providers from censoring sites or discriminating against competitors like Netflix.

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Free Press argues that the FCC can't support Pai's claim that the former rules resulted in a drop in investment by carriers.

“Chairman Pai and his Republican colleagues at the FCC failed to assemble a shred of credible evidence against classifying internet-access providers as common carriers under the law," Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said Thursday in a statement. "They ignored the nature of the service that these providers offer to internet users, along with the fact that the 2015 rules were working for everyone."

Free Press isn't the only net neutrality advocate challenging the FCC in court. Twenty-three attorneys general are also suing, as are companies including Mozilla and Vimeo.

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