Bloomberg News

Group Challenges FCC’s Open-Internet Rules in Boston Court

September 28, 2011

(Updates with prior litigation in seventh paragraph.)

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- A group called Free Press filed a new legal challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s open Internet rules set to take effect Nov. 20.

The rules provide less protection for mobile Web users than for people using wired Internet connections, the Florence, Massachusetts-based group said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Free Press seeks review on the grounds that this decision violates the Communications Act of 1934, or other statutes, and is arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law,” according to the complaint filed in U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston.

The so-called net-neutrality rules, adopted in December, would prevent Internet service providers from blocking or slowing down Web content to homes and businesses.

“The commission’s open Internet framework has brought certainty and predictability, stimulating innovation and investment across the broadband economy, including mobile networks and apps,” Neil Grace, an FCC spokesman, said in an e- mailed statement. “We will vigorously oppose any effort to disrupt or unsettle that certainty, which ensures that the Internet remains an engine for job creation, innovation and economic growth.”

Internet Service

In January, Verizon Communications Inc. asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington to overturn the new rules, saying the agency didn’t have the authority to regulate how companies provide Internet service. Verizon’s lawsuit was dismissed April 4 by the appeals court after the FCC argued the challenge was premature.

Free Press was a party in another suit against the FCC. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in July overturned the agency’s decision to ease the restrictions on ownership of both newspapers and broadcast outlets in a market by the same company. The court sent the matter back to the FCC, saying the agency hadn’t given enough time for public comment.

Free Press said on its website that it’s a “national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media.”

The case is Free Press v. Federal Communications Commission, 11-2123, U.S. Appeals Court for the First Circuit (Boston).

--Editors: Michael Hytha, Andrew Dunn

To contact the reporters on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net; Todd Shields in Washington at tshields3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net Allan Holmes at aholmes25@bloomberg.net.


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