A month ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to regulate the Internet like a public utility. Since then, opponents to the new laws have tried to mount court cases against the decision.
The aim of the new FCC rules is to protect the open Internet, advancing principle of net neutrality by prohibiting broadband providers from elevating one kind of content over another.
Among those who have tried to block the rules are trade groups and service providers. The United States Telecom Association, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the American Cable Association and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, AT&T and CenturyLink have all sued the FCC.
"Threats to Internet openness remain today," the FCC wrote in the document that was released when the new rules were made public in April. "The record reflects that broadband providers hold all the tools necessary to deceive consumers, degrade content or disfavor the content that they don't like."
Back in 2010, Verizon sued the FCC over similar, but less strict, rules governing net neutrality and they won the case. The FCC's loss prompted them to draft the new, more restrictive rules. "Verizon realized that they brought about a worse outcome for the industry by winning, and now they're kind of sitting quietly in the corner," Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics in Boston, told The New York Times.
The new rules "reclassify high-speed Internet as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act and subject it to utility-style regulation," according to Rebecca R. Ruiz. And they go into affect today, June 12th.
Opponents had hoped to forestall the enactment of the rules, but a federal judge yesterday denied that request. "The decision, issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, does not necessarily signal that the court will ultimately uphold the new, stricter rules," writes Ruiz.
The court cases against the new FCC rules aren't over. Indeed, they are being expedited and may be argued as soon as fall or early winter. Also, the numerous lawsuits will likely be consolidated into one case. But Thursday's decision was considered a win for the new regulations.
"This is a huge victory for Internet consumers and innovators," Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, told The New York Times. "Starting Friday, there will be a referee on the field to keep the Internet fast, fair and open."
Challenging the FCC rules in court is not the only path for opponents. "On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee introduced legislation that would prohibit the FCC from enforcing the rules until the litigation is resolved," writes Ruiz.