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Cell phone company sues FCC over net neutrality rules

MetroPCS [corporate website], the fifth-largest cell phone company in the US, said Tuesday that it has filed an appeal [text, PDF] challenging new net neutrality [JURIST news archive] rules that will allow the government to regulate Internet traffic. Roger Linquist, MetroPCS's president and CEO, said in a statement that his company's reasons to sue were similar [WP report] to Verizon's, which filed a similar suit last week [JURIST report]. Verizon is challenging the regulations, which would prevent Internet providers from selectively blocking web access, saying they "go beyond any authority provided by Congress." The new net neutrality rules were approved last month [JURIST report] by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website], and the controversy surrounding the regulations suggested legal challenges would be pursued [WSJ report].

The FCC has long been trying to exert more control over Internet regulation. Last year, US Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) [official website] introduced legislation [text, PDF] intended to block the FCC from implementing its National Broadband Plan [official website; materials]. The Freedom for Consumer Choice Act would remove the FCC's ability to declare the actions of a communications provider illegal unless there was a clear showing that the practice causes harm to consumers and will not be corrected by market forces. A month earlier, the FCC opened a new proceeding [JURIST report] to identify the legal approach that will best support its efforts to develop universal access to "high quality" Internet broadband services. A previous court ruling [JURIST report] found that the FCC lacks the power to enforce net neutrality. Net neutrality is thought by supporters to be essential to the goal of an open flow of information over the Internet regardless of the amount of revenue generated by the information.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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