Twenty-two state attorney generals have joined together in a federal lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for its decision to repeal net neutrality. The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, January, 16, 2018 and is now in petition for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the Washington D.C. circuit.
Back in December, the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality rules. The decision to repeal net neutrality was made back in 2015, but not voted on officially until this past December. Net neutrality is the principle that internet providers must treat all data accessed over the internet the same. More broadly, net neutrality means all data on the internet should be equally accessible for everyone. By repealing net neutrality, the FCC is allowing internet providers to block or at a minimum, slow down the internet to certain users. While the decision to repeal net neutrality was voted on just last month, it will not take effect for several months.
The state attorney generals argue that by the FCC repealing net neutrality, it will allow the more powerful businesses to thrive, while smaller businesses and consumers struggle. The reason for this is that powerful businesses have the resources to be able to pay to access internet data, while smaller businesses and consumers will not. The attorney generals argue that the internet providers should not be allowed to use the “pay-for-play” access to the internet, which would obviously benefit those companies and consumers who can afford to pay more.
Iowa’s state attorney general, Tom Miller, recently cited the Administrative Procedure Act stating, “the FCC can not make arbitrary and capricious changes to existing policies, such as net neutrality.” He went on to argue that the FCC’s new rule to repeal net neutrality is exactly that- arbitrary and capricious, without any reasonable justification. It will be interesting to see how this case further develops.