The Federal Communications Commission will be inundated with a barrage of lawsuits after its decision to approve the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. The repeal decision, which was approved December 14, 2017, allows internet service providers to restrict, bar, or charge more for particular content as they deem appropriate.
The Internet Association has announced that it will be joining legal action aimed at restoring net neutrality regulations. The association further said that it will “act as an intervener in a judicial action against this order,” meaning that while not a direct litigant, it will be given certain rights by a court to observe or act in the case. The trade group has a wide range of members including internet giants Facebook, Google, Amazon and Airbnb.
Opponents of the move including content providers, social media companies and internet retailers, claim that this will give leeway to internet service providers to start charging for faster connections on top of amount of data consumed which means startups may find it difficult to compete with established entities. However, proponents of the move say that it was long overdue as it affirms a free market economy and is likely to promote increased investment in infrastructure needed to improve connectivity.
From the time the Federal Communications Commission made the announcement in December, opponents of the action have given every indication that they will take the fight to the courts. Previously, the courts have been lenient to the FCC, giving the agency a lot of leeway in managing stakeholders in the industry but this hasn’t dampened the string of lawsuits. Etsy, for example has indicated that it will take direct legal action in the near future and New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has also announced that he will sue to block the decision, based on allegedly fake public comments submitted to the FCC prior to the vote.