FCC seeks transfer of net neutrality legal challenges to federal court in Washington

The FCC voted in April to reinstate the rules, which were rescinded under the Trump administration.

Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has requested that a series of legal challenges against its decision to reinstate net neutrality rules be moved to a federal court in Washington, DC. The move follows the random selection of the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to hear the cases. The FCC argued that the DC Circuit is better suited to handle the case due to its extensive history with net neutrality issues.

Net neutrality rules, which mandate equal treatment of internet data and users by internet service providers (ISPs), were reinstated by the FCC in April. These rules prevent ISPs from blocking or slowing down traffic to certain websites or offering paid prioritisation for improved network speeds. The reinstated regulations also provide the FCC with new tools to address national security concerns and monitor internet service outages.

The FCC rejected a request from major industry groups, including AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, to delay the implementation of the net neutrality rules set to take effect on 22 July. The commission emphasised that postponing the rules would impede its ability to fulfil other policy objectives that benefit consumers, particularly in national security and public safety. The FCC noted that the industry groups failed to provide evidence of irreparable harm from the order’s implementation.

Reinstating net neutrality has been a priority for President Joe Biden, following an executive order in July 2021 encouraging the FCC to revive the 2015 rules established under President Obama. The Trump administration had previously repealed these rules, arguing they hindered innovation and reduced investment in network infrastructure, a claim disputed by Democrats.