INCOMPAS: FCC Ignored Key Info in Net Neutrality Decision

Internet giants have officially put their foot down on the FCC's move to eliminate net neutrality rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization, as well as a general conduct standard that applied to potentially 'net neutrality unfriendly conduct not necessarily within those other rules and the decision to classify interconnections under Title II for the first time.

INCOMPAS, whose members including streaming services, edge providers, and competitive carriers, has officially filed suit against the Restoring Internet Freedom order--April 23 was their deadline, according to a spokesperson for the group, whose members include Facebook, Google and Netflix. Part of their argument is the FCC did not include important information in the comment record for the decision.

The association filed its petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is already hearing various rule challenges already filed and consolidated in that court.

Related: ISPs Face Mass. Assault Over Network Neutrality

INCOMPAS filed a voluminous record in the comment period on the FCC rulemaking outlining what it saw as the risks and harms of "ending" network neutrality. It is the FCC's decision not to include some of that INCOMPAS is using to argue that the decision should be reversed .

CEO Chip Pickering used the filing as an opportunity not only to slam the FCC, but take a shot at the AT&T-Time Warner deal. “Critical merger information was blocked and withheld from the FCC’s net neutrality proceeding," he asserted. "As we watch the AT&T-Time Warner antitrust trial unfolding, it’s clear large ISPs fear a competitive streaming marketplace. Their desire to gobble up content, rather than creating it from scratch, is a sign that anti-competitive interconnection practices and paid prioritization schemes are on the horizon unless strong net neutrality protections are preserved."

Related: INCOMPAS to Hill: Paid Prioritization Must Be Off Limits

The reference to FCC withholding was the fact that INCOMPAS had petitioned the FCC to include in the net neutrality docket findings from merger investigations that ISPs have the ability and incentive to behave in a way that threatens the open internet, a request the FCC denied.

It told the court that those merger findings "stand in stark contrast with the Order’s newly found determination that ISPs lack such incentives and abilities. "

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.