ISPs, Vermont Agree to Delay Net Neutrality Preemption Fight

ISPs and the State of Vermont have agreed to putting their legal fight over the FCC's ability to preempt state and local net neutrality laws on hold until a federal court has ruled on the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom rule deregulation that asserted that preemption.

That came in an agreement released by a Vermont U.S. district Court on American Cable Association v. Scott (Vermont governor Philip B. Scott.)

Others joining in the suit included NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, CTIA – the wireless association, and USTelecom.

Following the FCC's decision in late 2017 to eliminate rules against blocking, throttling or paid prioritization, Scott signed a law making such rules the quid pro quo for state contracts for internet access service. ISPs sued pointing to the FCC's assertion of preemption.

Vermont filed to dismiss the suit; ISPs sought summary judgment, further briefing was scheduled for April 11.

But given that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decision could decide the issue by overturning the FCC ruling and preemption, "the Parties wish to avoid a waste of judicial and party resources, and believe that this action should therefore be stayed pending resolution of proceedings in Mozilla Corp. v. FCC," the court said, obviously agreeing with that assessment."

It is unclear when the federal court will weigh in. Oral argument was held Feb. 1, so it is likely to be a few more weeks at least if past is prologue, and perhaps more given the importance of the issue.

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.