Suit over Net Neutrality moves on despite shutdown

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Despite the partial federal government shutdown, a federal appeals court will hear oral arguments Feb. 1 in an effort to block the federal government’s retreat from previous broadband protections that were meant to keep broadband and wireless providers from slowing or blocking internet service.


The protections, known as Net Neutrality, are at the heart of a lawsuit filed by Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear and nearly two dozen other attorneys general, asking the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to vacate and reverse the 2017 rollback of the regulations by the Federal Communications Commission.


On Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied the FCC’s motion to postpone the Feb. 1 oral argument date due to the current government shutdown.


In a motion filed on Tuesday, the FCC said “due to the recent lapse in funding” for its operations, it was asking the court for an extension “to ensure that attorneys may fully prepare” for the argument.


The panel of three federal judges said in its Jan. 17 order that “upon consideration of the motion to postpone oral arguments in light of the lapse of appropriations….it is ordered that the motion is denied.”


Beshear calls the internet a part of our infrastructure that is just as critical as roads and bridges.  


“Small business, school districts and rural hospitals rely on the internet to help Kentucky families earn a living, educate our children and to provide critical medical services in every part of our state,” he said.  “We cannot give the power to slow, change or even shut down these services to a handful of major companies and simply trust they will do the right thing.”


The brief by the AGs claims that the FCC’s
Dec. 14, 2017 order is arbitrary and capricious and puts consumers at risk of abusive practices by broadband providers; and that the FCC’s order preempts state and local regulation of broadband service.


“If broadband or mobile internet service providers want to do business with the state, we should require they adhere to certain internet neutrality principles,” Beshear said. “We want to attract companies that are willing to provide reliable, high-quality broadband internet service to all Kentuckians.” 


Neighboring state AGs participating in the lawsuit before the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit include Illinois and Virginia.

 

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