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Verizon files lawsuit challenging FCC 'net neutrality' regulations

Verizon [corporate website] on Thursday filed an appeal [text, PDF; press release] in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] challenging new net neutrality [JURIST news archive] rules that will allow the government to regulate Internet traffic. The company 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]. In its statement, Verizon says the suit "is the result of a careful review of the FCC's order. We are deeply concerned by the FCC's assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the Internet itself." Advocacy groups, however, are accusing Verizon of forum shopping and sacrificing equal Internet network accessibility in order to make a profit [press releases]. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski [official profile], who proposed the rules [JURIST report] last month has not yet responded to the appeal.

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; JURIST report] 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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