According to Engadget, a coalition of 23 attorneys general have filed a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission on the grounds that the decision to abolish net neutrality is illegal and unconstitutional. The coalition originally filed a lawsuit at the beginning of 2018, but withdrew the suit with the promise to file again once the FCC published the repeal in the Federal Register. The FCC published such a document on February 22nd, and the coalition is upholding its promise to fight back against what New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman calls “an illegal rollback.”
Though the FCC’s publication is called the “Restoring Internet Freedom Order,” the coalition believes that the order does anything but restore freedom to American consumers. Engadget reports that the suit claims the FCC’s order to be against federal law, in violation of various notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements, and “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act.”
The suit is calling for the courts to vacate the action, meaning the attorneys general want federal courts to deem the order null and void. Federal courts have already struck down two similar attempts to repeal net neutrality in the past decade, but this particular order could go all the way to the Supreme Court.
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The coalition is not the only group making neutrality efforts, as the Senate needs one more vote to pass a bill that formally disapproves of the FCC’s decision, restoring the Obama administration’s 2015 net neutrality order and preventing future repeals with similar intentions.
The fate of net neutrality will affect every web user. The federal government currently considers high-speed internet a public utility, so Americans pay for web access like they pay for their electricity or gas bill, allowing total access to the entire internet with just one payment. But the repeal of net neutrality would allow Internet Service Providers to segregate access to certain content, forcing the consumer to pay a separate fee for access to things like music streaming, video streaming, and social media. The repeal would also allow ISPs to slow down or block certain websites altogether, filtering the information that Americans have access to depending on which content their ISP prefers.
The repeal of net neutrality puts the consumer’s online experience in the hands of ISPs, as it allows providers to pick and choose what content can be accessed, at what speed, and at what cost. States like New Jersey, New York, and Montana have already begun putting policies in place that will discourage ISPs from doing so.
If both the Senate and the coalition are unsuccessful in reversing the FCC’s repeal, the order will go live on April 23rd, effectively killing federal net neutrality and putting the internet back into the hands of ISPs.
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