Verizon makes its case against the FCC's Net neutrality rules

By Lee Kaelin on

Verizon made a clear stance against the Federal Communications Commission's new net neutrality rules, filing a legal brief with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Washington claiming that the new rules exceed the regulator's authority and even went as far as to say they violated the constitutional rights of the networks owners.

In December 2010 the FCC adapted a set of net neutrality rules in an effort to protect broadband users from networks slowing down certain traffic or blocking certain content. In principle, it would also prevent companies from favoring their own traffic in a bid to make their own services faster than the competition. The rules were registered with the government in September last year.

The wireless provider firmly believes the FCC's net neutrality rules threaten its First Amendment rights to freedom of speech as well as property rights covered by the Fifth Amendment. Verizon also believes Congress has not given the FCC the power to enforce net neutrality regulations on the nation's ISPs.

"It violates the First Amendment by stripping them of control over the transmission of speech on their networks," Verizon said in a statement to Bloomberg. "And it takes network owners' property without compensation by mandating that they turn over those networks for the occupation and use of others at a regulated rate of zero, undermining owners' multibillion-dollar-backed expectations that they would be able to decide how best to employ their networks to serve consumers and deterring network investment."

Ultimately this could potentially result in one of two things happening. If the courts rule that the FCC has exceeded its authority, Congress could respond by changing the law to explicitly authorize network neutrality regulations. But if the courts accept Verizon's constitutional arguments, then imposing network neutrality rules on the nation's broadband carriers could require a constitutional amendment, which could be tough to pass.

"We look forward to defending our open Internet rules in court," FCC spokesperson Neil Grace said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. "This strong and balanced framework is helping ensure that the Internet continues to thrive as an engine for innovation, investment, job creation, and free expression."

The case is Verizon v. Federal Communications Commission, 11.1355 with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Washington.

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