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Net Neutrality Lawsuits Filed; Congress to Review FCC’s Open Internet Order

Electronic Superhighway by Nam June Paik, image CC-BY-NC-SA The Q

On April 13, 2015, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published in the Federal Register its final Open Internet Order protecting net neutrality. The rule—which the FCC voted to approve in February, prohibiting blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization—will become effective on June 12, 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register, unless overturned by Congress or by courts. The rule’s publication in the Federal Register triggered two clocks, one that gives Congress 60 days to overturn an agency regulation by passage of a joint resolution under the Congressional Review Act, and another 10-day clock for legal challenges to the new rule.

Fourteen Republicans in the House of Representatives have signed on to a joint resolution disapproving the FCC’s Open Internet Order. The Congressional Review Act allows for Congress to overturn an agency decision on a straight up-or-down vote, without the possibility of filibuster in the Senate. If Congress does overturn the FCC’s decision through this process, the overturning would still need to survive the threat of a Presidential veto, requiring a two-thirds vote of both chambers. Some members of Congress also have put forward bills that would essentially overturn the FCC’s decision through legislation.

Almost immediately after publication of the rule in the Federal Register, Internet provider trade associations and companies, including AT&T, filed lawsuits. These lawsuits allege, among other charges, that the FCC has exceeded its statutory authority and that the rule violates the Communications Act.

For more details, see the April 13 ARL Policy Notes blog post, “FCC Publishes Final Net Neutrality Rule; Lawsuits to Follow.”