Verizon is suing to halt the Open Internet Order enacted to protect net neutrality. To oversimplify, it prevents ISP’s from prioritizing their own services or degrading the services of their competitors. Verizon has taken umbrage to this directive, and they think they have a First Amendment argument to striking this type of regulation.
To oversimplify again, they feel the government is interfering with their First Amendment right to interfere with the quality of other companies’ communications and services.
What’s sad is that from a legal perspective they might not actually be wrong here. What powers the FCC might have in regulating the internet still haven’t been expanded or properly defined by Congress, so Verizon has an argument in questioning whether the FCC overstepped its bounds. From Verizon’s brief:
“Broadband networks are the modern day microphone by which their owners engage in First Amendment speech. The FCC thus must identify an actual problem and narrowly tailor its solution to solve that problem. The FCC’s ‘prophylactic’ rules cannot pass that test. The Fifth Amendment likewise protects broadband network owners from government compulsion to turn over their private property for use by others without compensation, especially in light of their multi-billion-dollar investment-backed expectations.”
Today, both Verizon and the FCC will be given 20 minutes apiece to address the appellate court hearing this case. The FCC has also posted a detailed response to all of Verizon’s claims. Lot’s of legal-speak, but it’s an interesting read if you’re into net neutrality.
How the court decides on this case will have far reaching impact on what powers the FCC has to regulate internet communications, and what rights and responsibilities ISP’s have in handling their own and competing internet traffic.