FCC Files Paperwork to Dismiss Verizon's Anti-Net-Neutrality Suit
October 7, 2011 8:12 AM
Government Commission argues Verizon doesn't have the legal jurisdiction to sue it
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. (
), 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
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.
, etc.) would result in either a separate monthly fee or a separate per-visit fee being added to your account.
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.
new court filing
the FCC's attorneys argue that Verizon has insuffiient jurisdiction to challenge the rules on a statutory basis.
"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
Comcast Corp.'s (
) 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.
"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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