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Government Commission argues Verizon doesn't have the legal jurisdiction to sue it

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is still struggling to try to convince the nation's biggest internet service providers to comply with its new net neutrality rules.  Surprisingly one of the noisiest critics has been Verizon Communications, Inc. (VZ), a company whose net neutrality proposal the FCC largely adopted.  

Specifically, the FCC's new rules exempt wireless carriers like Verizon from the ban on throttling internet connections.  Verizon is perhaps upset about the provisions that would prevent it from banning certain sites such as 4Chan and the provision which prevents it from charging users fees on a per-site basis, something that communications companies are currently in talks to deploy.  Under such a scheme, each site you visited (e.g. DailyTechGoogleWikipediaYouTube, etc.) would result in either a separate monthly fee or a separate per-visit fee being added to your account.

Pay per page visit
Fig 1.: The FCC proposal is unpopular among telecoms, who complain it would prevent a "free market" in which carriers could charge users per-website usage fees. [Source: Fierce Wireless Semina via Wired]

The FCC has filed to dismiss a second lawsuit from Verizon challenging the rules.  It has already defeated Verizon once, dismissing the company's first lawsuit challenge.

In a new court filing the FCC's attorneys argue that Verizon has insuffiient jurisdiction to challenge the rules on a statutory basis.

It writes:

"Verizon's theory of jurisdiction is that the FCC modified its radio licenses within [certain statutes] because the Open Internet Order cited the agency's authority to modify licenses, among numerous other statutory bases of authority." Verizon's attempt to appeal the order on a statutory basis, "however, applies only when this Court is asked to review an FCC order that modifies specific individual licenses. It does not apply to review of generally applicable Commission orders that, like the Open Internet Order, regulate a broad group of licensees as a class. ... Verizon's notice of appeal ... should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction."

The argument is an interesting one.  Basically, the FCC is arguing that Verizon's attorneys have misinterpreted the laws which grant it regulatory authority.  Specifically it's arguing that the law permits ISPs like Verizon to only sue about individual per-carrier regulatory decisions, rather than broad regulatory edicts, like the net neutrality rules.

If the FCC's "Motion to Dismiss" is approved, Verizon's hopes of fighting the new rules will dwindle, given that it's already lost another case in court.  However, it remains to be seen whether the court sides with the FCC's argument about jurisdiction.  Verizon does have one thing working in its favor.  It's retained Helgi G. Walker, the Washington D.C. attorney who won Comcast Corp.'s (COMCSA) challenge per-company net neutralty enforcement.

Even if it wins this round, the FCC still has more lawsuits to deal with.  It is facing a separate suit, which rather than arguing -- like Verizon -- that the rules go to far, argues instead that they don't go far enough, as they exempt wireless carriers from throttling restrictions.

Source: FCC

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By WeaselITB on 10/7/2011 10:11:19 AM , Rating: 2
I'm really curious about the rational basis for this fee-based per-website charge. What makes the bits coming from different than the bits coming from different than the bits coming from I've looked, but haven't been able to find any words from the ISPs other than (essentially) "We want more money."


RE: Basis?
By Iaiken on 10/7/2011 10:18:24 AM , Rating: 2
What entitles companies like Verizon to charge more for content that they didn't create simply because it's popular?

Essentially the argument comes down to well we already charge Google so they can make available, so we should charge the user not only to have access to the internet, but to receive traffic from If you then access after you've reached your bandwidth cap, there are yet more fees for the overage.

It's just a series of cash grabs, pure and simple.

RE: Basis?
By Reclaimer77 on 10/7/2011 10:33:26 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah I guess I'm just stuck. I adamantly am against the FCC taking over the Internet as we know it, which is what happens with every medium they involve themselves in. But I'm totally against content pay schemes such as these as well, obviously, I spent a ton of time on the Internet in general and those sites.

Anyone else just feel kind of depressed sometimes with the tech news? People suing each other over everything, the Government taking over the Internet, ISP's getting with content providers to screw everyone. Bla bla bla...

RE: Basis?
By icemansims on 10/7/2011 10:58:05 AM , Rating: 2
That's basically it. It's lesser of two evils. That's why I support the FCC's efforts, not because I'm a big fan of government, but I'm less of a fan of our corporate overlords.

RE: Basis?
By Reclaimer77 on 10/7/2011 12:40:39 PM , Rating: 2
I cannot convince myself that the FCC is ever the "lesser" of two evils though. It will start at Net Neutrality, sure. And then they will apply their "decency standards" and other crap to the Internet until all web content will be under Government control. Just like they have to every other media format they have ever gotten involved in.

This is the same FCC that drove the highest rated and highest grossing talk show in the history of the planet, Howard Stern, off terrestrial radio. The same FCC that has been banning and fining artistic expression since their inception.

You gotta understand that the Government is highly vested in bringing the Internet "in line", and this seemingly innocent "Net Neutrality" situation is the perfect way to get their foot in the door.

I just wish there was a better way.

RE: Basis?
By foolsgambit11 on 10/8/2011 6:17:30 AM , Rating: 2
First, though, the FCC will have to come up with a new reason to regulate content on the internet. Howard Stern was regulated under the same premise as OTA TV. It covers any broadcast on free, OTA broadcasts on spectrum allotted exclusively to a single entity. If the consumer pays for access to a network/broadcast, then the FCC doesn't regulate content. So the FCC doesn't regulate content on cable, satellite TV/radio, internet, cellular conversations, etc. Occasionally, these networks are regulated by the provider (see film ratings by the MPAA, cable companies 'regulating' content on non-network channels, etc.).

I think you may be overstating the involvement of the FCC in censorship. Much of the censorship we endure is non-governmental - at least, not the Federal government (to cover myself regarding laws on strip clubs and porn stores). It's social censorship, the kind railed against by Mill in On Liberty. In fact, the government has slowly been chipping away at what can be legally censored.

RE: Basis?
By Reclaimer77 on 10/8/2011 10:32:28 PM , Rating: 1
First, though, the FCC will have to come up with a new reason to regulate content on the internet.

Hell they have all the reason you could ask for. Child porn, "bullying" leading to suicides, perverts meeting teenage girls in hotels room from chat rooms. The list is endless. You think the FCC "needs" to come up with some magical reason? Hell no.

You guys have to get a clue. I respect your position, but you need to understand something. The Government absolutely cannot stand how the Internet isn't under their direct control. Information is power, and there's way too much unregulated information on the 'net. Also there's TONS of commerce on the Internet and the vast majority of it isn't taxable. If you think those aren't two damn good reasons for wanting things to change, I mean come on!

If you think I'm crazy please point out to me all the other mainstream technologies like the Internet that aren't heavily regulated or out-right controlled. Guess what? They don't exist.

I think you may be overstating the involvement of the FCC in censorship.

Ok well that's just ignorant. Do some Google searches, it's all there for you to learn. Sure a lot of it you would say is ancient history, but it DID happen.

As far as Howard Stern goes, they didn't outright ban him, no. They did something far more sinister. They made it impossible for Howard Stern show affiliate stations to renew their FCC license. In other words, in order to remain in business they effectively had to drop the show. Well duh, which one do you think they were gonna pick?

If you or I behaved in this manner, they would call it conspiracy and gangsterism and throw us in jail. But that's the kind of fear and power a faceless entity like the FCC can wield. And people want them regulating the Internet...

RE: Basis?
By cruisin3style on 10/8/2011 5:08:19 PM , Rating: 2
clearly you've never heard of public outcry before

pretty sure howard stern was taken off the air because he was on public radio...dont' remember much about it, maybe he pissed off someone in power? a better approach probably would have been to come up with a ratings system like TV-MA but for radio or i dunno

but your view of the government wanting to take everything over and sensor everything is a little perverse in my opinion

besides you can't stop the signal

RE: Basis?
By alphadogg on 10/10/2011 4:36:52 PM , Rating: 2
What makes one singer able to charge $100/ticket versus the other who charges $20/ticket? It's all just sound waves, right?

Look, I don't like the idea, but that kind of logic just doesn't work.

The problem is that, traditionally, we've always been charged a flat fee. It's what we're used to. It'll be hard for companies like Comcast to put that genie back in the bottle. Imagine what happens when they're entire customer base gets that first "excess use charge" for using Facebook...

And when they lose all their customers....
By Mathos on 10/7/2011 11:21:09 AM , Rating: 2
Things like this make absolutely no sense. You know, honest to god, I'm starting to think that it would be better to just let down the regulations. With idea's like this, these companies will drive their customers away on their own.

By Iaiken on 10/7/2011 11:39:37 AM , Rating: 2
With idea's like this, these companies will drive their customers away on their own.

To where? It's not exactly like there is actually any competition out there. You act like there aren't multi-billion dollar barriers to entry in this market.

Even if local ISP's stepped up, the national ISPs can force them into similar pricing by charging them extra to access the wider internet beyond their local region. Want to get to from North Carolina? Well there is a Verizon toll and an AT&T toll and a Time Warner toll because you need to go through all those networks to get there.

Regulation and forced reciprocation agreements were some of the biggest factors in that made the modern internet as we know it possible. With the major ISP's now trying to take on the roll of content provider, they don't have to care if you don't use their free content if they can charge you for going outside of their network to the competition. They want an internet environment where competition doesn't matter, if they always make money, they always win.

Double Dipping
By monstergroup on 10/7/2011 9:36:37 AM , Rating: 2
When you can't/don't innovate, then your only option left to grow the business is to cap and/or apply usage charges on top of a monthly fee. Yet another pricing model out of thin air, based on nothing more than the idea of "because we can." The phrase 'double dipping' apparently is unknown to Verizon (ATT), but they sure do like free loading off the popularity of websites.

RE: Double Dipping
By Uncle on 10/7/2011 12:14:09 PM , Rating: 1
Well you can always phone write,use the net, thats what your paying for, and tell the sons abitches your going to ween your self off the net for a month or two and see what the shareholders think when you do. Or switch to the lowest plan, anything to cut the the shareholders take. Thats all you have to do.

Cant happen
By KOOLTIME on 10/7/2011 12:32:57 PM , Rating: 2
Cant have a per visit internet billing like they would love to have to make them more cash, as our internet system has to many flaws currently to even remotely justify such an action.

AKA almost every single site uses ( what everyone hates ) pop-up and web redirects.

So a person visiting a web site gets a pop-up or web redirect to another "PAY" site they pay more for something they never intended to do at the whims of web site owners and tel-cos. This alone prohibits such an action from occurring. As just visiting a web site someone whom never intended to go their but the web host forced it upon them unknowingly, so they can generate more visit revenue's under such a bad scheme.

By avanst on 10/8/2011 9:45:51 PM , Rating: 2
This article is misinterpreting the motion filed by the FCC. It doesn't make sense to say, "that Verizon has insuffiient jurisdiction." What this motion is saying is the COURT has insufficient jurisdiction as specified in the first paragraph of the motion:
appeal pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 402(b)(5), which grants this Court
exclusive jurisdiction over FCC decisions that modify individual radio
(emphasis added)

However, Verizon has filed under two separate statutes, U.S.C. § 402(a) and Section 402(b)(5), this motion is simply arguing the court lacks jurisdiction to decide the issue because "the challenged decision did not modify radio licenses"

Ultimately it doesn't make a difference if this case gets dismissed because Verizon has filed separately under a different statute simultaneously, specifically U.S.C. § 402(a), to which the FCC's order is subject to review, which the FCC's motion concedes.

Jason needs to be clear about what is going on here, I think he isn't because of his lack of legal understanding. This case is likely to get dismissed due to the court's lack of jurisdiction, and once it does, there is still the other case, specifically Case No. 11-1356, that will make up the difference.

Verizon's lawyers are simply covering all the bases which is a common tactic used by good lawyers, if this case gets dismissed, it's nothing that Verizon needs to really worry about.

Triple Putz?
By alphadogg on 10/10/2011 4:49:12 PM , Rating: 2
So, they want to charge me for service, then upcharge me for using Facebook, and then charge Facebook because I used them?!? That's not just double-dipping, that's a full on triple dip!

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