Cable Companies, ISPs Ask Court to Block FCC Title II Neutrality Rule

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2015-05-13 Print this article Print
Title II Suit

However, as you might expect—this being Washington—not everyone agrees. Ed Black, CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, said the petitioners shouldn't expect success in their quest to keep the FCC from implementing the change to Title II. "I think it's unlikely that a stay would or should be granted," Black said. "On the merits of the case, I think they are likely to lose and I think claims of irreparable harm are insufficient and unconvincing."

Black said that what's really going on is that the petitioners are trying to hold on to legacy power. "That's why it's important not to have a stay," he said. He said the petitioners are trying to restore things to the way they used to be rather than moving toward the future.

"It's a disappointment that a number of these plaintiffs continue to try to look backward and not embrace the new dynamic Internet digital world and compete on the merits in that world, rather than trying to re-establish a system where their power and domination of assets can curtail innovation."

The unfortunate reality isn't so much whether the petitioners have facts on their side—which, to some extent, they do—nor whether Black is correct in his belief that they're trying to return to the past, which is probably true. The unfortunate reality is that, regardless of how this eventually turns out, the real victim will be net neutrality itself.

The petitioners have also filed a series of lawsuits in three different federal courts asking that the reclassification of Internet access be overturned. Once the petition for a stay is dispensed with, and regardless of who wins there, the next step will be motions to combine the cases into one, or at least, to move all the cases to a single court. Nothing will move forward until that motion is adjudicated.

Eventually, the consolidated lawsuit will be heard on its merits. That alone could take years. Then there is a high probability that the decision, one way or another, will eventually end up before the Supreme Court, taking several years to wend its way through the Appeals Courts.

During that time, for good or ill, Congress will likely to be working on other net neutrality legislation. Depending on what's in that legislation, it may kick off yet more litigation and appeals.

Probably the only sure way for the net neutrality issue to reach some resolution is for Congress to pass net neutrality legislation by a majority large enough to overcome a presidential veto. However, considering the present collection of conflicting interests in Congress, that isn't going to happen.

So right now, the only thing we have is uncertainty, and unrelieved uncertainty is the surest way to kill net neutrality.



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