23 states challenging repeal of net neutrality rules

New Jersey is one of the 23 states joining in a lawsuit challenging the repeal of the net neutrality rules.

The lawsuit was filed in January by the attorneys general of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

Calling an open and free internet vital to state government services and virtually every aspect of daily life in New Jersey, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said that New Jersey is joining a multi-state lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission seeking to block the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman led the coalition of states in filing the lawsuit to block the Federal Communications Commission’s illegal rollback of net neutrality.

The coalition filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, formally commencing the lawsuit against the FCC and the federal government.

“An open internet – and the free exchange of ideas it allows – is critical to our democratic process,” said Schneiderman. “The repeal of net neutrality would turn internet service providers into gatekeepers – allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do, and what we say online.”

Schneiderman said allowing providers to decide what people can and cannot view online “would be a disaster” for consumers, businesses, and everyone who cares about a free and open internet.

Critics have argued that repeal of net neutrality would be like allowing the phone company to decide who you can talk to.

“We are committed to taking whatever legal action we can to preserve the internet rights of New Jersey consumers, and to challenge the federal government’s misguided attack on a free and open internet,” said Grewal. “The Federal Communications Commission acted arbitrarily and against the evidence before it when doing its about-face on net neutrality. If the FCC has its way, ISPs will be able to play favorites on the internet, deciding which consumers can have access to what content and features … deciding, essentially, what consumers can do, say and view online.”

“We may not agree with everything we see online, but that does not give us a justifiable reason to block the free, uninterrupted, and indiscriminate flow of information,” New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy said. “And, it certainly doesn’t give certain companies or individuals a right to pay their way to the front of the line. While New Jersey cannot unilaterally regulate net neutrality back into law or cement it as a state regulation, we can exercise our power as a consumer to make our preferences known.”

The lawsuit alleges that the FCC has departed, without justification, from a long-standing policy and practice of defending net neutrality while either misinterpreting or ignoring evidence in the record of potential harm to consumers and businesses.

The suit asserts that the FCC’s “arbitrary and capricious” shift in policy is prohibited under the Administrative Procedure Act. It also alleges that the federal repeal of net neutrality involves a “sweeping” and unlawful preemption of state and local laws.

Led by New York and including a coalition of 22 states, the suit names the FCC and the federal government as defendants. The coalition has filed a petition for review of the FCC’s decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

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