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U.S. net neutrality is in the hands of the D.C. Circuit (again)

Today a United States appellate court in Washington, D.C. [heard] oral arguments over a lawsuit challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent net neutrality order. We filed a joint amicus brief with CCIA supporting the order. The Internet needs a foundation of clear rules and authority to protect users and innovators from harmful blocking and throttling practices. If, on the other hand, the order is struck down, the U.S. Internet community will be back at square one, with little opportunity to engage with the evolving practices we are seeing today.

Twice before, this court (though with some different judges) has struck down FCC action on net neutrality; but both times, the principal reason was the source of authority supporting the action. In the current order under review, the FCC took the path supported by Mozilla, other organizations in civil society and the tech industry, and 4 million Americans, using its so-called “Title II” statutory powers to support the rules it adopted.

We engaged extensively in the FCC proceeding in support of Title II authority and of meaningful protections for the open Internet, including strong rules against blocking and discrimination of content, for both fixed and mobile Internet access services. We filed a written petition to the FCC, along with initial comments and reply comments. We followed that up by mobilizing our community, organizing global teach-ins on net neutrality. We also joined a major day of action and co-authored a letter to the President. And we’ve gone beyond the U.S. in our support of net neutrality, engaging in the European Union, Peru, and India.

The core argument in our amicus brief reflects our consistent support for net neutrality. Upholding the FCC’s order would preserve the status quo, reinforcing assumptions long held by end users and validating the policy balance and history associated with the concept of communications services. Striking the order, on the other hand, would unbalance the historical level playing field and undermine the pro-innovation and pro-competition framework that the open Internet provides, and which has led to tremendous socioeconomic benefits in the short time of its existence.

We hope the Court will uphold the Open Internet order as a foundation of protections for users, competition, and innovation, and we look forward to working with the FCC to address new opportunities and challenges for the Web as they arise.