In this fall’s least surprising lawsuit, Verizon on Friday fired off its best shot at the US Court of Appeals. They contend that the FCC overstepped its authority in setting up such rules, and basically suggest that the FCC should just butt out of everything related to the internet. You can’t blame them for taking a big swing though, otherwise this one would be too easy to justify the cost of the legal team they’ve put together. And this is Verizon’s responsibility right now, as its fellow telecom titan AT&T is too busy arguing over the T-Mobile deal to go toe to toe with Genachowski on another front.
According to Verizon’s general counsel, Michael Glover;
“We are deeply concerned by the FCC’s assertion of broad authority to impose potentially sweeping and unneeded regulations on broadband networks and services and on the Internet. We believe this assertion of authority is inconsistent with the statute and will create uncertainty for the communications industry, innovators, investors and consumers.”
If quote that sounds familiar, well it is – I’m sure its been on file since Verizon last tried to file the same lawsuit earlier this year, but were stymied by the technicality that the FCC hadn’t actually published the rules to the Federal Register.
Anyone who is surprised by the lengthy bureaucratic delay really shouldn’t be, because the only way the FCC can get any mileage out of these rules is by putting off the inevitable judicial ruling against them, thus keeping the whole subject in limbo. Meanwhile, politically the Obama administration would rather have the noisy pro-net-neutrality populist and anti-corporate wind at its back going into next year’s election.
But one opponent of these network neutrality rules is also suing to stop them from going into effect. The Free Press thinks the rules are too weak, particularly in the form of those exemptions for wireless carriers. They’ve filed to force the FCC to actually strengthen regulations that is probably doesn’t have the legal authority to impose in the first place. Nobody actually expects the Free Press to actually make any headway in this direction, it’s just about framing the argument on their terms — and about declaring their readiness for battle in advance of Verizon’s move of course.
And all of this means… nothing really. Nothing new anyway, as all this was so utterly predictable. Does anyone doubt that in the end, Verizon will win the lawsuit and then the FCC will just rewrite its rules via some other regulatory framework and try again?
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