FCC Starts Clock On Net Neutrality Repeal, Faces Lawsuits

CBS Local — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially started the clock on the end of net neutrality laws. In a Feb. 22 release, the agency sent out “final notice” that Obama-era rules governing equal distribution of the internet will be repealed in 60 days.

Net neutrality laws were created during the Obama administration and barred broadband companies from blocking access or slowing down the performance of certain websites and online services. The 2015 rules also made it illegal for internet providers to charge companies a fee in exchange for better access to customers.

The April 23 deadline is already drawing criticism and legal challenges from parties who believe net neutrality is needed to regulate fair use of the internet. “As a result of the mess the agency created, broadband providers will now have the power to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content,” Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel claimed in a statement obtained by The Hill. The Republican-led agency narrowly passed the repeal in December by a vote of 3-2.

Intellectual property law non-profit Public Knowledge said they would be filing one of several expected lawsuits against the FCC following the Feb. 22 announcement. “Despite the hard blow [FCC] Chairman [Ajit] Pai has dealt to the Open Internet, small businesses, and consumers, the fight for net neutrality continues,” the group’s senior counsel John Bergmayer said in a statement. “We are confident that the FCC’s illegal and procedurally flawed action will be rejected.”

Over 20 states have also filed petitions in the courts opposing the repeal of net neutrality. Chairman Pai had previously said that the FCC had been “micromanaging the internet” during the previous administration. Mr. Pai has argued that the rollback will spur more competition among internet service providers who will be motivated to offer more choice to their users.

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