FCC Vote Imposes Net Neutrality Rules Sure to Face Legal Blockade
NEWS ANALYSIS: The Federal Communications Commission did exactly what President Obama requested. But that doesn’t mean he got enforceable network neutrality rules.As I write this, my email is filling up with self-serving statements that are either cheering or blasting the Feb. 26 vote approving the regulation of the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act. The statements by most of the supporters of the FCC's vote indicate they seem to be under the impression that this change will somehow make the Internet a better place. Opponents are decrying the vote and warning about all sorts of doomsday scenarios that will forever end Internet as we know it. Meanwhile, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, in his closing remarks during the contentious FCC meeting, finally predicted correctly what would actually happen, which is that the Internet would not change. However, while the Chairman may be right about the ultimate outcome, it's not for the reasons he voted for the new rules. What will really happen is that the federal courts will begin to fill up with lawsuits demanding that the FCC action be overturned. Those lawsuits will be filed by ISPs large and small and very likely by some major customers of those ISPs.
The short- term result will be a secure period of full employment for legions of communications lawyers working in the Washington, DC suburbs. While it's not clear that any of them will succeed in securing an injunction that will force a halt to the FCC's Title II plans, the end result will be the same. Somewhere buried deep within the 317- page FCC order there will be enough to ensure judicial action by a federal judge somewhere in the country.