The battle to save net neutrality is heating up in court and Congress

FCC to vote on net neutrality
(Image credit: Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images))

Senate Democrats said Tuesday that they have 50 votes for a measure to restore net neutrality rules overturned by the Republican majority on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), putting them one vote shy of being able to force the measure. But even if House Speaker Paul Ryan allowed a vote on the measure and it passed, President Trump would likely veto it, despite net neutrality's broad popularity. So Tuesday also saw a handful of federal lawsuits filed to block the FCC's net neutrality repeal.

One suit was filed by the attorneys general of 21 states and Washington, D.C., all of them Democrats, arguing that the FCC's "arbitrary and capricious" decision violated federal law and the FCC's longstanding policy of preventing internet service providers from blocking or throttling websites. "The repeal of net neutrality would turn internet service providers into gatekeepers — allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do, and what we say online," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The Mozilla Foundation, the Open Technology Institute, and the public interest groups Free Press and Public Knowledge also filed separate lawsuits.

The 2015 rule giving the FCC teeth to enforce net neutrality, like previous net neutrality rules, was challenged in court by telecom firms, and a federal appellate court sided with the FCC in that case. Broadband companies are now siding with the FCC while the Internet Association, a trade group that includes Google and Netflix, is backing the net neutrality side. The FCC said its December rule stipulated that its net neutrality repeal couldn't be challenged until it was logged in the Federal Registry, so Tuesday's lawsuits were preliminary moves to determine which court will hear this round of legal challenges.

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