Appeals Court Will Not Rule On the Repeal of Net Neutrality

In another win for the FCC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia announced yesterday that it would not reconsider the October ruling that upheld the repeal of net neutrality rules. Requests had been made by 15 states and a collection of technology and advocacy groups to reconsider the earlier ruling. The net neutrality laws were first issued in 2015 to discourage Internet service providers from practices such as blocking or throttling traffic and enabling so-called “fast lanes” through paid prioritization. In December 2017, the FCC voted to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality laws that were largely supported by tech companies and consumer groups. 

“Internet giants like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix and Twitter sued the FCC as part of the Internet Association lobbying group,” reports Engadget. “Several other companies spoke out against the repeal, and 23 attorneys general filed a challenge.”

While the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives had “voted to reinstate net neutrality protections,” the Republican-led Senate opted not to consider the measure. The latest court decision means the repeal of net neutrality laws will stand for now.

“The Internet has remained free and open, consumers have been protected, speeds have increased, and more and more Americans have gotten access to broadband,” explained a spokesperson for FCC chair Ajit Pai, who introduced the repeal.

“In petitions filed in December, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, Internet trade group INCOMPAS, and various advocacy groups had asked for the rehearing,” reports Reuters. “They were joined by states that had also challenged the decision.”

Advocacy group Free Press indicated it plans to “keep weighing … legal options” and “making the case in Congress, in statehouses and in future FCC proceedings.” Meanwhile, Mozilla explained it would consider “next steps.”

“The appeals court, in its October decision, also ruled the FCC had overstepped its legal authority when it declared that states cannot pass their own net neutrality laws,” noted Reuters. “It ordered the agency to review some aspects of its 2017 repeal of the rules, including public safety implications and how its decision will impact a government subsidy program for low-income users.”