Video Game Industry Sues To Restore Net Neutrality Rules

The video gaming lobbying group Entertainment Software Association is seeking to join a lawsuit challenging the recent repeal of the net neutrality rules.

Without net neutrality, gaming companies "will have no effective legal recourse against broadband provider conduct that impairs consumers’ online video game experiences," the organization writes in a new motion seeking to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the repeal.

The group, like others challenging the repeal, wants a federal appellate court to reinstate the Obama-era net neutrality rules. Those regulations, approved in 2015, prohibited broadband providers from blocking or throttling traffic, and from charging companies higher fees for prioritized delivery.

In December, the Republican-led FCC voted 3-2 to revoke those rules. Chairman Ajit Pai, who backed the repeal, says the former regulations were too heavy-handed, and depressed investment.



But consumer advocates and other proponents say net neutrality rules are necessary to prevent Comcast, AT&T and other broadband providers from censoring sites or discriminating against other companies.

"Broadband providers are now permitted to engage in practices that degrade consumers’ traffic," the Entertainment Software Association writes. "That, in turn, could have significant consequences for the enjoyment of multiplayer online games and cloud-based game play services, both of which require low latency connections to support rapid and continuous interactivity."

The Silicon Valley lobbying group Internet Association also is suing over the repeal, as are 23 attorneys general, consumer advocacy groups and several tech companies including Mozilla, Etsy and Kickstarter.

The video game group says in its court papers that net neutrality is particularly important for online gaming. "Unlike streamed movies or music, games cannot be buffered to compensate for problems with the broadband connection," the group writes. "Degradation of consumers’ traffic could also impact game distribution networks, which depend upon adequate and consistent bandwidth to deliver large file downloads in a timely manner."

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