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The Fate of Net Neutrality Hinges on the House

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WASHINGTON — On Thursday, Free Press filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to challenge the Federal Communications Commission’s recent repeal of Net Neutrality protections.

Free Press’ filing, made in the same court as those of its joint petitioners Open Technology Institute and Public Knowledge, opens the long-promised litigation against the agency, which decided last December to reverse the 2015 Title II “telecommunications services” classification of broadband-internet access.

The FCC’s December vote has met with a powerful public backlash, as large majorities of voters from both parties say they support keeping in place the 2015 safeguards protecting internet users’ rights.

The federal court case against the FCC is just one part of the comprehensive campaign to restore those protections.

On Feb. 27, Free Press Action Fund helped organize an internet-wide day of action during which millions of internet users joined small businesses, online communities, public-interest groups and popular websites to flood lawmakers with calls, emails and tweets aimed at securing the final votes needed to pass a Congressional Review Act resolution that would void the FCC’s decision.

Since December, more than 25 states have begun work on legislation or signed executive orders supporting Net Neutrality protections for their residents.

Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood made the following statement:

“Free Press has a rock-solid legal argument against the FCC’s repeal of the Net Neutrality rules. The agency is dead wrong to think it can take away nondiscrimination protections, grounded in Title II of the Communications Act, that prevent ISPs from picking and choosing what speech they’ll transmit and what they’ll block or degrade.

“Chairman Pai and his Republican colleagues at the FCC failed to assemble a shred of credible evidence against classifying internet-access providers as common carriers under the law. They ignored the nature of the service that these providers offer to internet users, along with the fact that the 2015 rules were working for everyone. Broadband investment and deployment continued under the Title II-based protections the Pai FCC struck down, and the FCC has no proof to support its claims to the contrary.

“Pai also ignored procedural flaws in the FCC’s decision-making, and irregularities in the agency’s own commenting procedures. The docket shows there was a genuine and substantive public outcry opposing Pai’s decision and supporting the Net Neutrality rules, but there were also fraudulent submissions that the FCC refused to investigate.

“Net Neutrality supporters are gathering momentum both on the legal and political fronts. Millions of people spoke out this week because they recognize how crucial the open internet is to promoting racial justice, free expression, innovation and economic opportunity. Lawmakers in Congress and the states are signing up by the hundreds to protect Net Neutrality. The courts will have their say, too, as they begin to assess the legal and factual errors underlying the FCC’s wrongheaded repeal.”

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