Oregon joins challenge of net neutrality repeal

Ellen Rosenblum

Oregon has joined 20 other states and the District of Columbia in launching a legal challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s decision in December to repeal a rule barring internet providers from blocking or charging more for access to one website over another.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., asks the court to overturn the decision to repeal “net neutrality” and to find it unlawful. The suit alleges that the decision by the FCC was an abuse of discretion and that it violated the U.S. Constitution and the Communications Act of 1934. Furthermore, attorneys general of the states argue that the action conflicted with notice-and-comment rule-making requirements.

Other plaintiffs in the case are the attorneys general of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington

The FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to scrap the rule approved by the FCC in 2015. The commission’s two Democrats voted against it.

An investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Office found that commenters to the FCC on the proposed rule change illegally used the identities of Americans from around the country to give feedback on net neutrality. His office has identified at least 2 million fake comments.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has said the repeal of would have “lasting negative impacts for our economy and almost every aspect of our lives” and would “incentivize Big Cable over other companies.”

Rosenblum spearheaded a letter from 18 state attorneys general to the FCC in early December urging commissioners to delay a vote until investigators could determine whether fraud was committed in the FCC comment process.

Supporters of the rule change argue that it will benefit consumers by spurring more competition between broadband providers and cutting internet providers’ expenses.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, one of the two FCC commissioners who voted against the rule change, told NPR in December that half of U.S. households have only one choice for a broadband provider.

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