December 15, 2017
Authored by: Bryan Cave and Merrit Jones
In response to the Federal Communications Commission’s vote yesterday to dismantle the net neutrality rules regulating businesses that connect consumers to the internet, online retailers have responded that they will support legal and legislative efforts to challenge the repeal.
The FCC’s action reversed the agency’s 2015 Open Internet Order, during the Obama administration, to have stronger oversight over broadband providers. That order, commonly referred to as net neutrality rules, prohibits internet service providers from blocking websites, charging more for access to certain websites, or secretly slowing, or “throttling,” website content. The federal government will also no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like phone service.
“The FCC has effectively ended net neutrality, undoing years of hard work and bipartisan agreement,” said Bill McClellan, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA). “It is unfortunate that the FCC has disregarded the will of millions of Americans who have contacted the commission to voice their fears and concerns of discrimination at the hands of a few large internet providers. Consumers and businesses big and small will suffer.”
It will take weeks for the repeal to go into effect, so consumers will not see any of the potential changes right away. But the political and legal fight started immediately. Numerous Democrats called for a bill that would reestablish the rules, and several Democratic state attorneys general, including Eric T. Schneiderman of New York, said they would file a suit to stop the change.
McClellan said ERA will support these legal challenges and efforts to pass net neutrality legislation. Several public interest groups including Public Knowledge and the National Hispanic Media Coalition also promised to file a suit. The Internet Association, the trade group that represents big tech firms such as Google and Facebook, said it also was considering legal action.