The immediate impact of the rules may not amount to much, as the commission has pledged to use a light touch, while the cable and telecom industries broadly agree with the basic principles of not blocking or degrading Internet traffic selectively. The lawsuit says the regulations are too onerous, violate federal law, and are arbitrary, and that the FCC didn’t follow the proper procedure in creating the rules. The ruling is a setback for the industry, but the litigation against the rules will go on. “Blocking, throttling, pay-for-priority fast lanes and other efforts to come between consumers and the Internet are now things of the past”, he said.
The industry specifically had sought to block the agency’s move to reclassify broadband Internet as a more heavily regulated telecommunications service, and a new broad general conduct standard that prohibits Internet providers from “unreasonably interfering” with consumers’ access to the web.
“The fact that the court didn’t issue the stay until the 11th hour strongly suggests that at least one judge thought the arguments for the stay were compelling”, he said by email.
He noted that the DC Circuit panel included two Obama administration appointees and that “it was unlikely the liberal majority was going to overturn one of this administration’s signature policies”.
The FCC's last attempt to set rules around net neutrality was tossed out in early 2014, because it treated Internet providers as common carriers even though the FCC hadn't formally classified them as such. Since the lawsuits could take several years to resolve, the House hope is that they prolong implementation of the rules until there’s a new President in the White House, who, if Republican, would choose a like-minded FCC boss to dismantle the rules. Had the D.C. Circuit granted the stay, it would have raised doubts about the ability of the FCC’s approach to withstand judicial scrutiny.
Big corporations like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon are spending huge amounts of money on public relations media blitzes, lobbyists and political campaign donations to convince the public and legislators that Congress must overrule the FCC decision.
“While we are disappointed the court declined to grant our stay request, we recognize that the bar for obtaining a stay is exceptionally high”.
Opponents welcomed the court’s decision to expedite the case.
Pantelis Michalopoulos of Steptoe & Johnson, which is representing a coalition of supporters of the FCC’s action, said that the denial of the stay “is by no means the end of this case”.
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