Lawsuits take aim at FCC and net neutrality; FCC fires back
Mozilla, the developer of the Firefox browser, has filed a legal brief against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), accusing the telecoms regulator of abdicating its role, ignoring public comments and failing to understand how the internet actually works, notes the Register. “The lawsuit is one of several ranged against the FCC for its controversial decision to tear up existing net neutrality rules. But while other lawsuits are based on the FCC's authority or relatively arcane legal issues, Mozilla's case is blunter: the FCC is doing a terrible job.” In a blog post, Mozilla said: “For the first time in the history of the public internet, the FCC has disavowed interest and authority to protect users from ISPs, who have both the incentives and means to interfere with how we access online content. The FCC needs to accept statutory responsibility in protecting those user rights – a responsibility that every previous FCC has supported until now. That’s why we’re suing to stop them from abdicating their regulatory role in protecting the qualities that have made the internet the most important communications platform in history.” The full legal brief has not yet been published but Mozilla characterises it in the form of three main arguments: The order to scrap existing net neutrality rules “fundamentally mischaracterises how internet access works” – by effectively arguing that it is not possible for an ISP to provide website access without some degree of interference; that the FCC has “completely renounced” its critical role of enforcer; and the FCC failed to carry out a “reasoned decision making” process by “ignoring much of the public record as well as their own data showing that consumers lack competitive choices for internet access”. Meanwhile Ajit Pai, FCC chair, has been ramping up his defence of the decision, and also criticised California’s legislature for approving a state measure to guarantee open internet access and said “bad behaviour” on the part of internet service providers (ISPs) could be prevented by the FCC’s new transparency requirements. Speaking at an event reported by Reuters, Pai said: “If an ISP starts blocking lawful content, everyone will know. If an ISP starts throttling services based on the nature of the content, everyone will know. This is a powerful disincentive for bad behaviour.” He called California’s legislation “a radical, anti-consumer internet regulation bill that would impose restrictions even more burdensome than those adopted by the FCC in 2015.” See more here and at Reuters.
- Monday, 24 September 2018