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ISP Friends in High (Court) Places

WASHINGTON — In legal terms, you know who your friends are on the day that amicus briefs are due. For supporters of Internet-service providers’ challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s reclassification of Internet access as a Title II common-carrier service, that date was last Thursday (Aug. 6).

It turns out that those ISPs, who filed their opening brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on July 30, have a lot of friends who wanted to tell the court where it ought to go in terms of vacating the FCC’s rules, and alternately where the agency had gone wrong in producing them.

Here are some of the highlights:

• “The FCC’s order is an example of a bungling regulator achieving exactly the opposite effect from the one it set out to cause by failing to understand the subject matter. The Internet is capable of being much, much more than it has ever been, but the FCC’s ham-fisted regulatory model will actually cause it to be much less than it is today.” — Richard Bennett, founder and publisher, High Tech Forum, and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

• “The FCC simply ignores fundamental economic principles, including the role of competition in policing ISP behavior … ignored the benefits of 20 years of Congressional and FCC ‘light-touch’ regulation of the Internet … [and] dismissed the very real threats to innovation, investment and output from Title II regulation.” — Economists with the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy

• “[I]f granting the FCC greater authority to regulate Internet access is the wisest policy decision, then it is the role of Congress to enact such legislation. The FCC does not have the authority to unilaterally expand its jurisdiction through a drastic reinterpretation of the statute, and the courts cannot sit idly by as the FCC embarks on a multiyear voyage of discovery. — TechFreedom, a nonprofit think tank supporting Internet-freedom issues, on behalf of a group of Internet entrepreneurs and voiceover- Internet protocol pioneers

The FCC gets to file its opening brief in defense of the order Sept. 14. Its amici (friends) get to weigh in on Sept. 21.