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Free Press Files Suit Against Net Neutrality Rules

Free Press has filed suit against the FCC's Network Neutrality rules as insufficiently regulatory, particularly when it comes to wireless broadband.

Verizon and others are expected to file suit because they say the rules are overregulatory and unnecessary, but Free Press went the other way.

Free Press filed in the First Circuit Court of Appealsin Boston, while Verizon is expected to file in the D.C. circuit.

"When the FCC first proposed the Open Internet rules, they came with the understanding that there is only one Internet, no matter how people choose to reach it," said Policy Director Matt Wood in a statement. "The final rules provide some basic protections for consumers, but do not deliver on the promise to preserve openness for mobile Internet access. They fail to protect wireless users from discrimination, and they let mobile providers block innovative applications with impunity...

Our challenge will show that there is no evidence in the record to justify this arbitrary distinction between wired and wireless Internet access."

Free Press has criticized the compromise net neutrality from the outset due in part to the pass wireless broadband got. Well, not exactly a pass.

After Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn, both Democrats and essential to passage of the order (it was 3-2 along party lines), pushed for bringing wireless under the rules, language was toughened, including reviewing the rules within two years and creating an advisory committee to help monitor the wireless market. The order also in no way endorsed activities in the wireless space that were proscribed in the wired space by the regs.

The chairman explained the disparate treatment as reflecting relevant differences, including "unique technical issues involving spectrum and mobile networks, the stage and rate of innovation in mobile broadband, and market structure."

Lawsuits got the green light as of last Friday (Sept. 23), when the full rules were published in the Federal Register. They go into effect Nov. 20.

For an insightful take on how the legal challenges and forum shopping (picking a circuit to file in that is likely to be most receptive to your argument), check out this blog posting by Public Knowledge's Harold Feld.