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Telecom industry moves to block Biden’s net neutrality reinstatement

Telecom industry groups are seeking to block the Biden administration’s reinstatement of landmark net neutrality rules set to take effect on July 22.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in April along party lines to reassume regulatory oversight of broadband internet and reinstate open internet rules adopted in 2015 that were rescinded under former President Donald Trump.

The rules will bar internet service providers from blocking, slowing down traffic to certain websites, or engaging in paid prioritization of lawful content, as well as give the FCC new tools to crack down on Chinese telecom companies and the ability to monitor internet service outages.

Industry groups representing AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and others in recent days have filed legal challenges to the order in seven U.S. circuit courts.

The groups include USTelecom, NCTA, CTIA and ACA Connects, who asked the FCC to halt the order, from taking effect so they can seek judicial review or if needed a court-issued order temporarily blocking the new rules.

Reinstating net neutrality has been a priority for President Joe Biden, who signed a July 2021 executive order encouraging the FCC to reinstate the rules adopted in 2015 under Democratic President Barack Obama.

The industry groups said the FCC “has once again claimed all-encompassing authority to regulate how Americans access the internet — this time, adopting even more invasive rules than it did in 2015.”

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said the commission will not pursue rate regulation and “not undermine incentives to invest in networks.”

Democrats were stymied for nearly three years because they did not take majority control of the five-member FCC until October.

Under Trump, the FCC had argued net neutrality rules were unnecessary, blocked innovation and resulted in a decline in network investment by internet service providers, a contention disputed by Democrats.

Despite the 2017 decision to withdraw the requirement at the federal level, a dozen states now have net neutrality laws or regulations in place. Industry groups abandoned legal challenges to those state requirements in May 2022. Reuters

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