This hearing may decide the future of net neutrality

NET NEUTRALITY ADVOCATES are heading to court Friday for what may be their best chance to restore federal regulations banning broadband providers from blocking, throttling, or otherwise discriminating against lawful content.

The Federal Communications Commission passed robust net neutrality protections in 2015. But in December 2017, the now Republican-controlled FCC voted to jettison those rules after a contentious public comment period during which bots flooded the agency’s website with fake comments.

Advocacy groups, internet industry organizations, and state attorneys general quickly filed suit against the FCC, arguing that its decision to overturn the Obama-era protections was unlawful. Those suits were consolidated into a single case, which will be heard Friday by three judges on the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The suit raises two main questions: whether the FCC broke the law by failing to consider evidence that went against its allegedly foregone conclusion that it should overturn the Obama-era rules, and whether it was legal for the FCC to stop considering broadband internet a telecommunications service, like telephone calls, and instead consider it an “information service” like Google or Facebook.

In its own brief, the FCC called the lawsuit “meritless.”


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