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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Verizon Files Early Challenge to Latest ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules

Verizon Files Early Challenge to Latest ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules

What, you ask, is that clickety-clackety noise you hear off in the distance, emanating from office buildings everywhere?
Here’s the answer: It’s the sound of lawyers (and their assistants), typing up legal challenges to the Federal Communications Commission’s recent rules on “net neutrality.”
One of the first (and most high-profile) challenges was filed Thursday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by telecom giant Verizon. The company asked the D.C. Circuit to overturn the FCC’s latest effort to regulate the Internet lines, predominantly on grounds that the government overstepped its authority. Click here for the WSJ story; here for the NYT story.
Last month, the FCC passed new rules to police Internet lines. The rules would bar phone and cable companies from blocking or slowing legal Internet traffic or providing preferential treatment to certain Web sites.
Verizon has long maintained that the FCC doesn’t have jurisdiction to enforce net neutrality rules and has urged Congress to get involved. In its appeal, Verizon said it is “deeply concerned by the FCC’s assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the Internet itself,” according to a statement from Michael Glover, a Verizon deputy general counsel.
This won’t be the D.C. Circuit’s first bite at the “net neutrality” apple. The court ruled early last year that the FCC overstepped its authority when it sanctioned Comcast for deliberately slowing some subscribers’ Internet downloads. Verizon has hired Wiley Rein’s Helgi Walker, the lawyer who helped Comcast win its case, to ask the D.C. Circuit to shoot down the FCC’s latest rules.
The Verizon suit is the first of several challenges expected to be launched against the rules.
Public interest groups that believe the rules don’t go far enough also are expected to contest the rules.

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