Verizon Drags FCC to Court Over Net Neutrality


America’s largest wireless carrier Verizon has sought a legal reprieve against the Net neutrality rules adopted by the FCC last month. Verizon filed the appeal in court this Thrusday.

In an official statement released by the company, Verizon senior vice president and deputy general counsel Michael E. Glover said that, “We believe this assertion of authority goes well beyond any authority provided by Congress, and creates uncertainty for the communications industry, innovators, investors and consumers.”

In a vote carried out on December 21st last year, FCC commissioners chose to adopt Net neutrality rules which would give the FCC control and oversight over all internet service providers in the country. The vote was close with three commissioners in favor and two against the newly adopted rules.

The new rules have been adopted by the FCC to prevent ISPs from censoring or blocking internet content. The genesis of the problem goes back to 2007 when Comcast, America’s largest ISP, unilaterally blocked subscriber access to P2P file-sharing networks. The FCC objected but Comcast responded with a lawsuit challenging the FCC’s authority to intercede in the matter. Comcast prevailed when a U.S court of appeals ruled against the FCC in April 2010.

As a result, the FCC adopted a fresh set of rules giving itself policing power over ISPs. Expectedly, the move has faced a lot of flak from industry observers and legal opposition from ISPs. Georgetown University professor and digital media specialist Rebecca Tushnet feels that the Net neutrality rules will face a lot of litigation as the FCC has no legal right to expand its authority.

Verizon is not very enthused about the Net neutrality rules. In the company’s official statement Glover adds, “Today’s filing is the result of a careful review of the FCC’s order, we are deeply concerned by the FCC’s assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the Internet itself.”

The FCC too has its share of supporters; net neutrality activists like Jay Schwartzman, policy director for the nonprofit advocacy group Media Access Project, accused Verizon of “forum-shopping” as it registered its legal appeal in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

In a written statement to the media, Schwartzman said that, “Verizon has made a blatant attempt to locate its challenge in a favorable appeals court forum, under this bizarre legal theory, virtually every FCC decision would wind up in one court.”

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