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Net neutrality supporters sue to stop FCC's repeal

Net neutrality protestors
Net neutrality protestors. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The first lawsuits challenging the FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules were filed Thursday, kicking off the next battle over how internet service providers handle the web traffic coursing through their networks.

Why now? The FCC's repeal was finally published in the Federal Register Thursday, which opened the floodgates to lawsuits and started the clock on a congressional effort to undo the FCC's decision.

What's happening in court:

  • A wide range of companies, state attorneys general and advocacy groups are trying to reverse the repeal. Mozilla, Public Knowledge, the Open Technology Institute, Vimeo and a group of state attorneys general were among those who filed suit Thursday.
  • Internet Association, which represents Facebook, Google, Snap, Microsoft and others, says it plans to intervene on their behalf in the courts.

What's happening in Congress:

A resolution to roll back the repeal and re-instate net neutrality rules is one lawmaker shy of having the support it needs to pass the Senate when Democrats force a vote on it later this year.

  • That measure is unlikely, however, to pass in the House or be signed by President Trump. Congress has 60 legislative days to take action on the issue — and activists are pushing lawmakers they think might be on the fence to support the measure.
  • "The FCC and Chairman [Ajit] Pai just triggered a timeline that will culminate in a Senate vote on my resolution, and we cannot let up until we win," said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who is leading the resolution.
  • At a press conference on Thursday, Pai declined to comment on the agency’s plan for dealing with the legislation.

What's happening in the states:

  • Some state lawmakers are also trying to pass their own net neutrality rules, crossing into murky legal territory because the FCC has said its repeal pre-empts state law.
  • Governors have also issued orders saying that internet service providers that do business with their states have to comply with net neutrality principles.

What’s next?: The repeal is expected to take full effect later this year, after the Office of Management and Budget reviews part of the proposal.

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