IIA Highlights Legal Infirmities of FCC’s Recent Net Neutrality Decision

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States, via ETELIGIS INC., 05/21/2015 – – The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to apply public utility-style Title II regulation to the broadband ecosystem reversed nearly 50 years of communications policy that gave consumers a vibrant Internet, according to two informational documents released by the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA). A timeline infographic created by IIA makes clear how decades of Congressional, FCC, and Court decisions have consistently held that Internet access service was not a “telecom service” and was therefore exempt from Title II regulation. IIA’s two-pager that accompanies the timeline – titled “Permanently Securing Net Neutrality” – reveals the legal infirmities of the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

"Some believe that network neutrality principles are secured through the FCC’s reclassification decision that treats broadband as a common carrier, but the reclassification rests on a bed of sand,” explained Rick Boucher, a former Democratic congressman who chaired the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and the Internet and now serves as honorary chairman of the IIA. “It can be washed away in the next presidential election that could produce a Republican FCC majority or it could be overturned in the courts given its legal vulnerability."

Boucher added, "The best way forward is for Congress to pass bipartisan legislation, which gives statutory permanence to network neutrality and returns broadband to its information services, lightly-regulated status.”

According to IIA’s release, the FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband Internet access service as a “telecommunications service” subject to Title II common carrier regulation is contrary to all FCC and U.S. communications policy since computer technology issues emerged nearly 50 years ago. Since Congress adopted the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the FCC, in multiple decisions, has consistently found that Internet access service is an information service and therefore not subject to Title II regulation.

The IIA release states that the FCC failed to legally and factually justify its policy decision that abruptly reversed course. From the two-pager:

The Commission justifies its abrupt reversal in course on the increased use of web services, such as email, that are provided by parties other than the party that provides the Internet access, as well as increased advertisement by Internet access providers of transmission speeds. These considerations are legally irrelevant. These changes in the marketplace do not affect the fundamental capabilities offered by Internet access and do not provide a basis to ignore the clear and broad statutory definition of an information service that Congress provided and the FCC has repeatedly adopted.

As part of IIA’s informational document rollout, Boucher was today joined by Kathleen Sullivan – a partner of Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan, a constitutional law expert, and former dean of Stanford Law School – during a press teleconference to discuss the political and legal fragilities of the FCC’s recent decision, as well as the broader implications of Title II broadband reclassification. To listen to the call recording and download IIA’s new timeline infographic and two-pager, go to www.internetinnovation.org/library/special-reports/permanently-securing-net-neutrality/.

About The Internet Innovation Alliance:

The Internet Innovation Alliance was founded in 2004 and is a broad-based coalition supporting broadband availability and access for all Americans, including underserved and rural communities. It aims to ensure every American, regardless of race, income or geography, has access to this critical tool. The IIA seeks to promote public policies that leverage the power of entrepreneurs and the market to achieve universal broadband availability and adoption.


For more information contact:

Lauren DuBois

(917) 573-2485


SOURCE: Internet Innovation Alliance

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