According to The Washington Post, internet users are preparing to have their day in court over last month’s repeal of net neutrality rules. The first lawsuits might be filed as early as mid-January.
Opponents of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent ruling are expected to make two categories of arguments, The Washington Post reports. One will “likely target the FCC’s legal reasoning for undoing the net neutrality rules,” and the other will “concentrate on the decision-making process that led to the vote, which some critics claim had been ‘corrupted.’”
The reversed ruling, which occurred in December 2017, alters how “the FCC regulates internet providers in the context of its oversight powers,” The Washington Post says. The repeal and will allow certain broadband companies to speed up some websites, and slow down others, or charge those companies new fees.
“Under the 2015 net neutrality rules, internet providers were branded as telecom companies for the first time, opening the door to new rules on everything from privacy practices to the pricing of internet access.” Now, post-appeal, internet providers are considered to be “information services,” instead of telecom companies; providers that are considered to be “information services “are more lightly regulated and face fewer FCC obligations,” The Washington Post reports. As a result, opponents may also try to argue that the FCC didn’t do enough to consider whether internet providers should count as telecom companies.
What this means for decision makers:
While legal battles for the net neutrality ruling are imminent, decision makers should not fret just yet. According to The Washington Post, even if the court rules in favor of the FCC’s new definition of internet providers, opponents still have a shot at victory by “focusing on the public feedback portion of the decision-making process.” Some opponents’ feedback has recently highlighted irregularities and falsities in the FCC’s docket, including “numerous comments that were filed under allegedly stolen or fake identities.”
Plus, The Washington Post says that as many as 2 million comments may have been submitted under fake names, and more FCC critics are claiming that its decision-making process had “been tampered with in way that ought to invalidate the agency’s policy.” However, until cases surrounding the repeal are actually brought to court, there’s no way of knowing how the FCC’s decision-making process worked and if it was tampered with, nor is there any way to know if, when and how internet consumers will be affected at the moment. Decision makers might consider holding tight, keeping an eye on potential lawsuits, and starting to sort out options for both potential outcomes. That way, decision makers’ companies and employees will be prepared if the court rules in favor of the FCC’s repeal, or against it.