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January 16, 2018

Miller, Attorneys General Challenge FCC’s Net Neutrality Repeal

22 state attorneys general file petition for review, formally commencing lawsuit

(DES MOINES, Iowa) Attorney General Tom Miller today joined a group of state attorneys general in a federal lawsuit challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s decision last month to repeal net neutrality regulations.

The 21 states, plus the District of Columbia, this afternoon filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, formally commencing the lawsuit against the FCC and the federal government.

“By repealing these rules, the FCC changed the so-called ‘Internet of Things’ to the internet of kings,” Miller said. “The FCC shouldn’t let providers be internet kingmakers through pay-for-play digital on-ramps. Consumers and small businesses alike should expect no less than equal access to internet content,” Miller added. “Unfettered data access shouldn’t be a luxury—it’s a necessity that’s vital to our nation’s economy and our state’s economy.”

The rules, passed in 2015, barred internet service providers (ISPs) from slowing or blocking the digital flow of content and applications, and from offering paid faster data channels, or lanes. The repeal enables ISPs to preferentially treat sites they designate, and block or reduce data speeds for others. The repeal also enables ISPs to charge users to access specific content.

Under the Administrative Procedure Act, the FCC cannot make “arbitrary and capricious” changes to existing policies, such as net neutrality.  The FCC’s new rule, the attorneys general argue, fails to justify the commission’s departure from its long-standing policy and practice of defending net neutrality, while misinterpreting and disregarding critical record evidence on industry practices and harm to consumers and businesses.

Additionally, according to the states, the rule wrongly reclassifies broadband internet as a Title I information service, rather than a Title II telecommunications service, based on an erroneous and unreasonable interpretation of the Telecommunications Act. Finally, the rule improperly and unlawfully includes sweeping preemption of state and local laws.

“In our rural areas, where many consumers may have only a single internet service provider at best, the FCC’s repeal means that provider now gets to pick winners and losers by choosing what content you can load fast, slow, or not at all,” Miller said. “I’m concerned that this could widen our existing urban-rural digital divide.”

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