States Will Sue to Stop Net Neutrality Repeal

CYBERSPACE—As many as 18 states may against the Federal Communications Commission after Thursday’s FCC vote to repeal net neutrality rules that prevented internet service providers from blocking or slowing access to certain online sites. But do the legal challenges have a chance of stopping the repeal of net neutrality before the rollback goes into effect?

Internet users will likely see no changes in their online access for at least a few months. After Thursday’s vote, the new rules—like all new regulations—must be published in the Federal Register. That process can take several weeks. When the Obama-era FCC rules in 2015, six weeks passed between the commission’s vote and the publication date.

After publication, the new rules, or in this case the repeal of old rules, will take effect after 60 days. In other words, the first effects of net neutrality repeal will likely not be felt for about 100 days, that is, sometime in late March or early April of 2018.

But because of involved when numerous lawsuits are filed in one case, states or anyone else planning to sue the FCC over net neutrality repeal will likely file their suits well before the new rules are published in the Federal Register.

So far, just hours after the FCC’s vote on Thursday, the states of Washington and New York, as well as California’s Santa Clara County—home to many of the country’s largest and most powerful internet firms, including Google and Facebook‚ have sue to keep net neutrality rules in place.

But the day before the vote, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to the FCC asking for the commission to delay its repeal vote. The letter was signed by attorneys general from 16 other states plus Washington, D.C. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was not one of the signers, but had already announced his intention to sue the FCC at a press conference, bringing the total of states that have stated their legal objections to the FCC move to 18 as well as D.C.

Schneiderman “a blow to New York consumers, and to everyone who cares about a free and open internet. The FCC just gave Big Telecom an early Christmas present, by giving internet service providers yet another way to put corporate profits over consumers.”

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson added that the repeal undermines a free and open internet,” and “will seriously harm consumers, innovation, and small businesses."

In Santa Clara County, California, the heart of Silicon Valley, County Supervisor Joe Simitian said that could pose a public safety threat, as the county has increasingly relied on the internet for communications and informing the public county services and safety issues. A slower, or blocked, internet could damage that capability, county officials said.