'Too early' to sue over net neutrality, FCC claims

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The Federal Communications Commission has asked the Court of Appeals to throw out lawsuits brought by Verizon and MetroPCS.

The two organizations filed legal challenges ten days ago claiming that the FCC was overstepping its authority by attempting to regulate the internet. It wants to prohibit internet service providers from blocking or slowing certain internet connections.

In its new filings in the District of Columbia appeals court, the FCC claims that Verizon and MetroPCS filed their suits prematurely.

"The Court should dismiss MetroPCS’s notice of appeal because it was filed prior to publication of the Open Internet Order in the Federal Register and is thus jurisdictionally barred," it says.

While this might seem clear-cut, however, Verizon and MetroPCS beg to differ. One exception to the rule on publication is where a company's broadcast license is altered by a proposed ruling, which is what they are claiming in this case.

Not so, says the FCC in its filings: "The Open Internet Order plainly falls outside that description.  It establishes general rules that apply to all fixed and wireless mobile ISPs, not to any specific ISP.  The Order does not even discuss its application to any specific ISP," it says.

"Nor, in light of the numerous ISPs that provide service throughout the country, can the Order be viewed as addressing such a small set of identifiable ISPs (using wireless or any other technology) that it can properly be described as implicitly pertaining only to specific parties."