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Verizon cleared to sue FCC, try to stop net neutrality

updated 08:00 pm EST, Fri March 2, 2012

Decision could strip FCC of any regulatory clout

Verizon and MetroPCS will be able to move forward with their lawsuit against the FCC and its net neutrality rules. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the case. The FCC had argued that the court didn't have jurisdiction in the matter.

The FCC issued its official rules on net neutrality in December 2010. The regulations were intended to give subscribers the ability to access and receive any traffic over the Internet, so long as it was legal and safe. The FCC also sought to prevent a carrier, such as Verizon, from blocking or throttling a competing service, such as Skype, on their network. In developing its rules, the FCC accepted input from many perspectives, including a joint proposal from rivals Verizon and Google. The rules went into effect in November, 2011.

Many of the policies have been attacked from both sides. The Free Press has contended that the rules don't go far enough to limit a carrier's ability to stifle competition, and petitioned the FCC for stronger regulations. Verizon and MetroPCS filed their complaint arguing that the FCC was out of control and operating beyond its authority. The rules narrowly survived a Republican-sponsored bill in Congress that would have stripped the FCC of much of its powers and its ability to enforce the rules.

If Verizon and MetroPCS are successful in their case, then an appeal by the FCC would be heard by the US Supreme Court. If that court rules against the FCC, then the agency could effectively be powerless to regulate cable, DSL and wireless Internet services providers in the US. [via GigaOM]

by MacNN Staff



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