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WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Free Press filed a petition for review of the FCC’s unpopular Dec. 14 order that repealed the agency’s Net Neutrality rules and reversed the Title II “telecommunications services” classification of broadband-internet access.

Free Press filed its challenge in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Massachusetts, the state where the organization’s main office is based.

As the papers submitted to the court make clear, today’s filing is preliminary and protective in nature. The FCC released its Net Neutrality decision on Jan. 4. The decision suggests that lawsuits need not be filed until after the FCC’s order is published in the Federal Register. That publication has not yet occurred.

Yet in 2015, following the adoption of the prior FCC Open Internet Order, some parties filed immediately after the FCC release. While arguing that such filings were premature, the FCC nonetheless began the process for choosing the appellate court that ultimately heard the 2015 case.

Others challenging FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s decision, and likely filing their own suits today, likewise would do so on a protective basis, in case the FCC once again begins the court-selection process early. If the FCC holds off on that process, as Free Press and other open-internet supporters believe it should, then these same parties would likely file in court again after the agency’s order appears in the Federal Register.

Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood made the following statement:

“Free Press promised to see the FCC in court when the agency voted to strike down Net Neutrality in December. Today is the first step in that process. Our filing is preliminary in some respects, as the shot clock for filing appeals is settled. Yet that doesn’t diminish the importance of making the case that the FCC was wrong to repeal its Net Neutrality rules.

“Ajit Pai and his Republican colleagues at the FCC blundered their way to a bad decision late last year. They ignored the legal and economic evidence showing that the prior rules and regulatory classifications were working beautifully, as broadband investment and deployment continued to grow under the Title II-based rules Pai struck down.

“Pai also ignored irregularities in the agency’s own commenting procedures. The agency’s comment docket shows there was an unprecedented public outcry in support of keeping the Net Neutrality rules, but there were also fraudulent submissions that the FCC refused to investigate.

“And that wasn’t the end of the procedural fouls. The FCC also ignored thousands of complaints alleging that ISPs had violated the 2015 rules, and failed to provide proper notice of the many rule changes it voted to adopt.

“Momentum to restore strong Net Neutrality rules rooted in Title II keeps growing. Millions of people have spoken out because they recognize how important the open internet is for racial justice, free expression, innovation and economic opportunity. Lawmakers are signing up by the hundreds to overturn the FCC’s decision. And the courts will have their say too as they begin to assess the legal and factual errors underlying the FCC’s wrongful repeal.”

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