New Net Neutrality Rules under Legal and Congressional Scrutiny
New Net Neutrality rules were approved by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) on February 26, 2015. On April 13, 2015, the rules were published on the Federal Register (see https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/04/13/2015-07841/protecting-and-promoting-the-open-internet#h-147). The new rules currently have an effective date of June 12, 2015. The new rules prohibit broadband and mobile carriers from making efforts to slow Internet traffic or block specific web sites. Paid prioritization, or commercial deals between Internet service providers and content companies for preferential treatment, is also banned. Broadband Internet access has been reclassified as a public utility or common carrier, which is likely to increase regulation on the industry.
It did not take very long for the new rules to be subjected to legal scrutiny. Over the past few weeks several big companies, such as AT&T, have already filed lawsuits seeking to invalidate the new rules. Further, bills have recently been introduced into Congress seeking to challenge the new rules. These legal and congressional challenges were not unexpected and show that enacting the new Net Neutrality rules was the first, but definitely not the last step, in what appears to be a long fight over the Internet.