Aiming to reinstate the net neutrality rules, the Silicon Valley lobbying group Internet Association has officially moved to intervene in a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission.
"Absent effective net neutrality rules, both online consumers and companies are left to the mercy of broadband provider gatekeepers," the Internet Association writes in its legal papers, filed Thursday with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The group wants the court to reinstate the Obama-era net neutrality 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 until later this year.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who backed the repeal, has repeatedly claimed that the old regulations were too heavy-handed, and depressed investment. Earlier this week, Pai reiterated that argument, telling the American Cable Association that the net neutrality order "may have been the largest deterrent to network investment."
But consumer advocates and other net neutrality proponents say net neutrality rules are necessary to prevent Comcast, AT&T and other broadband providers from censoring sites or discriminating against competitors like Netflix.
Without net neutrality rules, "internet companies and consumers will have no effective legal recourse against broadband providers that distort competition and impede communication by preventing or discouraging consumers from reaching the online content of their choice," the Internet Association writes.
The group also says its members need the "assurance of a baseline level of nondiscriminatory treatment by all internet service providers" in order to "develop, market, and offer content and services across the country regardless of a potential customer’s choice of broadband provider."
Twenty-three attorneys general are also suing the FCC, as are advocacy groups like Free Press and companies including Mozilla and Vimeo.