Tough new net neutrality regulations were published in the Federal Register on Monday, triggering an effective date of June 12 and the first formal legal challenge to the controversial online traffic rules.
US Telecom, a trade group whose members include AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., filed a lawsuit Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to stop the rules.
The Federal Communications Commission approved the regulations by a 3-2 vote on Feb. 26.
They change the legal classification of wired and wireless broadband, treating it as a more highly regulated telecommunications service in an attempt to ensure that providers don’t discriminate against any legal content flowing through their networks to consumers.
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The order’s publication in the Federal Register, which generally takes a few weeks after new regulations are adopted, started a 60-day clock on its effective date – unless a court blocks them.
But FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who pushed for the regulations, has been optimistic they would withstand a legal challenge.
“As Chairman Wheeler has said, we are confident the FCC’s new open Internet rules will be upheld by the courts, ensuring enforceable protections for consumers and innovators online,” agency spokeswoman Kim Hart said Monday.
The publication meant the order formally could be challenged in court – and it didn’t take long.
US Telecom filed suit, arguing the rules are “arbitrary and capricious” and violate federal law.
The group’s members support the goals of the regulations, to ensure the free flow of legal online content, US Telecom President Walter McCormick said. The suit was filed because the more stringent government oversight that comes with broadband’s new regulatory classification will hinder investment in expanded networks and increase costs for users, he said.
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