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Cybersecurity & Standards, Free Expression

Mozilla v. FCC Decision Continues Fight to Protect Net Neutrality, States and Congress Primed for Action

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued its decision this morning in Mozilla v. FCC. The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) and its allies filed the case against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) following the FCC’s repeal of the Obama administration’s 2015 Open Internet Order, which protected net neutrality, and enactment of the Trump administration’s inadequate Restoring Internet Freedom Order (2018 Order). Today’s ruling vacated the 2018 Order in part, and referred other parts of the 2018 Order back to the FCC for reconsideration. 

“CDT sued the FCC because it repealed basic and essential net neutrality protections and failed to protect individual consumers and small businesses. The Court’s ruling today forces the FCC to reconsider key parts of its erroneous approach,” CDT Interim Co-CEO and General Counsel Lisa Hayes said.

Significantly, the Court rejected the FCC’s attempt to preempt state regulations aimed at ensuring net neutrality because it failed to demonstrate its adequate legal authority to do so. The FCC must now reconsider its own authority if it wishes to address the faults in its Preemption Directive. This ruling empowers states to move forward in the absence of a federal approach to consumer protections.

Hayes added, “The FCC was wrong to depart from the protections of the Open Internet Order.  The American public overwhelmingly supports strong and enforceable rules protecting an open internet, and today’s opinion highlights the need for Congress and the states to act quickly to restore net neutrality protections. A bill to do exactly that has already passed the U.S. House, but the Senate has stalled and stalled instead of doing its job to protect the internet.”

The FCC is now tasked with (1) giving adequate attention to the implications of the order for public safety; (2) the impact that reclassification will have on pole attachments; and (3) the impact it will have on the Lifeline Program.