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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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By Iaiken on 10/7/2011 11:39:37 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
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 Blizzard.com 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.


"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins














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