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Did FCC Illegally Repeal Net Neutrality?

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 05, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Net neutrality died last year, but a panel of judges could bring it back to life.

The U.S. DC Circuit Court of Appeals is thinking about it. The question is whether the Federal Communications Commission illegally repealed net neutrality rules that kept internet service providers from throttling traffic and charging more for doing it.

But Mozilla Corporation v. Federal Communications Commission is bigger than that. Industry insiders say it is the internet case of the century.

"Internet Law History"

Of course, sometimes things look larger than they are in Washington. For example, prognosticators said net neutrality expired but that wasn't exactly true.

The Verge said it died on June 11, 2018. That's probably why the tech publisher said Mozilla is "one of the most important cases in Internet law history."

For sure, the old net neutrality is dead. But legal death never stopped well-paid lawyers.

They made their case to the DC Circuit, focusing on whether the FCC properly classified the internet as an "information service" or a "telecommunications service." The challengers say the agency abandoned its prime directive.

"Relentless Deregulatory Urge"

Plaintiffs' lawyers said lawmakers and the courts made rules to keep the internet open and free.

In undoing those rules, the FCC's "relentless deregulatory urge swept aside everything in its path, including the law, the facts, reasoned decisionmaking, and the decisions of this Court," reported NPR, which also filed a brief in the case against the FCC.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who rolled back the Obama-era rules, has said it's about a free market. Internet service providers, including AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, agree.

And in the endless political cycle, the next administration may have something to say about it as well.

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