Public Interest Groups Take Aim At FCC Net Neutrality Order

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Tech Freedom, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Free State Foundation, and the Cato Institute filed an amicus brief yesterday with the Washington, DC Court of Appeals claiming that the US Federal Communication Commission’s 2011 “Preserving the Open Internet” order is unconstitutional.

The coalition of interest groups argue that the 2011 order unjustly favours content providers and marginalises the constitutional rights of broadband providers. Tech Freedom President Berin Szoka claims that the FCC’s net neutrality order infringes upon the First Amendment right of broadband providers because it denies them editorial discretion, thereby compelling them to impart content that they may disagree with.

The brief also discounts FCC claims of “ancillary jurisdiction” beyond its congressional mandate. The coalition of interest groups argues that the FCC has overstepped its role and calls on the court system to limit the boundaries of authority of the organization.

“We’re asking the Court to rein in an agency that it [has] previously criticized for making sweeping claims of authority that would ‘virtually free the Commission from its congressional tether,” Szoka said in a press release.

The case of Verizon v. FCC and the amicus brief are available here.

EU Open Internet Not So Open?

The submission of this legal brief comes on the heels of the net neutrality discussion heating up in Europe as the European Commission (EC) opened its net neutrality consultation period on 23 July.

Despite the Commission’s open invitation for input regarding its net neutrality policy (IPW, European Policy, 23 July 2012), the EC has reportedly blocked the access of TOR users to its website. TOR is an internet anonymisation technology used by many in the Arab transition movement. These reports of the EC blocking web access follow similar reports of it blocking users with internet anonymisation technology in March.

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