FCC chief: No matter what we do, the ‘big dogs’ will sue over net neutrality
No matter what rules the federal communications commission implements on net neutrality, it can expect to face down lawsuits from the major internet service providers, according to its chairman Tom Wheeler.
Speaking to reporters, Wheeler accepted that lawsuits were inevitable, but said that it was worth moving ahead with implementation in a more cautious manner.
“Look, the big dogs are going to sue, regardless of what comes out,” he said. “We need to make sure we have sustainable rules. That starts with making sure we have addressed the multiplicity of issues that come along and are likely to be raised.”
“I want to move forward on open-internet rules with dispatch,” he added. “I also want to have open internet rules that are sustained. And that’s the process we’re going through.”
President Obama’s net-neutrality proposals, laid out in early November, called for the “strongest possible rules” to ensure access to the internet becomes a protected resource. Calling an open internet “essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life”, he asked the FCC to regulate it as a “common carrier”, preventing ISPs from giving privileged connections to paying customers.
The major cable companies, speaking through their industry body the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, said they were “stunned” by Obama’s proposals, which were “extreme” in comparison to the “longstanding, bipartisan policy of lightly regulating the internet”.
AT&T explicitly threatened a lawsuit the same day, saying that “if the FCC puts such rules in place, we would expect to participate in a legal challenge to such action.”
Until Obama’s intervention, the FCC had been planning to hold a vote in December on whether to impose mild regulation supporting net neutrality. The proposals, which were intended to be a compromise between the interests of the ISPs and web firms, have now been put on hold, and the vote delayed to 2015.
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