The United States Federal Communications Commission won’t be delaying its vote to repeal net neutrality on December 14th despite the fact that a still-ongoing court battle between the Federal Trade Commission and AT&T may make its alternative solution legally impossible by stripping the FTC from jurisdiction in regards to regulating throttling practices of Internet service providers. In a statement provided to Ars Technica earlier today, the FCC refused to reflect on the case that has the potential to defeat one of its main arguments for repealing the existing net neutrality rules, which is that the FTC is the only agency that can prosecute such matters. Instead, Chairman Ajit Pai’s office called net neutrality advocates “desperate” and confirmed the vote will be held as originally planned in response to the question about the matter.
The move didn’t sit well with opponents of the FCC’s initiative, many of whom harshly criticized the agency for resorting to name-calling when presented with legitimate arguments to delay its vote that is expected to significantly change the Internet landscape in the U.S. The development is even more controversial in light of the fact that the FCC previously said it will only evaluate net neutrality-related comments posted on its website that present their opposition to the repeal in the form of a legal argument, which is precisely what the city of New York and numerous advocacy groups did in a letter sent to it on Tuesday. Should AT&T successfully argue that the FTC has no jurisdiction over its mobile operations, the agency’s ability to regulate non-common carriage practices of any telecom would be prevented and leave consumers with no protection if mobile service providers start throttling data originating from specific websites after the net neutrality rules are repealed.
The FCC’s current proposal requires transparency from wireless carriers in regards to their efforts to support an open Internet but doesn’t include any kind of sanction mechanisms that could be used should telecom giants abuse the trust many people believe is naively given to them, save for saying that the FTC can always prosecute anti-competitive and anti-consumer practices, which may not be the case should AT&T win its case against the agency. The repeal of Title II regulations is all but a given at this point and will likely end in a three-to-two vote in favor of the move.