22 State Attorneys General Sue FCC For Net Neutrality Repeal

A coalition of 22 state attorneys general refiled their lawsuits against the Federal Communications Commission over its net neutrality repeal earlier this week, shortly after the regulator published its controversial decision from mid-December in the Federal Register. The publication of the order marked the start of a two-month period which allows for legal challenges to the act that's meant to go into effect on April 23 should it survive judicial scrutiny. The office of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said it's confident the Restoring Internet Freedom act will go into force this spring regardless of the lawsuits. Certain aspects of the order are still being reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget that must approve them but isn't required to do so within 60 days, so the repeal may only become official at a later date even if all legal challenges filed against it fail. Besides 22 state attorneys general, the District of Columbia's AG also joined the coalition.

The anti-repeal consortium is being led by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and argues the FCC isn't allowed to radically alter its existing policies if its reasoning for doing so is based on a severe case of misinterpreting evidence pertaining to recent industry trends and the manner in which they reflect on both consumers and businesses. Over half of U.S. states are presently considering enacting their own net neutrality regulations, with a handful of them such as Montana and California already doing so via governor-issued executive orders and assembly bills. The FCC's polarizing act contains a provision against state-level intervention in the matter but it's presently unclear whether the clause will survive judicial scrutiny.

Both the Silicon Valley and Internet service providers are presently pushing for a federal bill defining open Internet protections but digital companies like Facebook and Google are advocating for legislation that's similar to Title II regulations and prevents ISPs from blocking, throttling, or otherwise censoring content, in addition to forbidding any practices related to selling prioritized access to companies. The wireless industry led by AT&T wants a universal bill regulating both Internet providers and websites that doesn't outlaw prioritized access, often referred as "Internet fast lanes." Critics are arguing prioritized access practices represent just a different version of throttling with a more positive spin placed on it.

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