WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court said on Wednesday it would not reconsider its January decision to uphold California’s net neutrality law.
A three-judge panel at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January ruled 3-0 that a 2017 decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to void federal internet protections could not prevent the company’s action. state, dismissing a challenge from telecommunications and general industry groups to block California’s net neutrality law, which aims to protect the open internet.
The appeals court on Wednesday rejected a request for a rehearing by the full court. Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior adviser at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, said it was “remarkable that no judge on the nation’s top appeals court even called for a vote on the motion for rehearing of the ‘industry”. Telecom groups could now ask the US Supreme Court to hear the case.
The court said in January that since the FCC reclassified internet services in 2017 as more lightly regulated information services, the commission “no longer has the power to regulate in the same way it did when those services were classified as telecommunications services”.
A lower court judge refused to block California’s net neutrality law from going into effect after the Justice Department withdrew its separate legal challenge to the California state law in February 2021.
California’s 2018 law prohibited internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering chargeable fast lanes, but it only went into effect last year.
The FCC under former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, had adopted net neutrality rules in 2015. They were overturned in 2017 by the FCC under President Donald Trump, a Republican. The California legislature responded by passing a state law requiring net neutrality in August 2018.
Proponents of net neutrality rules argue that the protections ensure a free and open internet. Broadband and telecommunications trade groups argue that their pre-internet era legal basis was outdated and would discourage investment.
The FCC remains split 2-2. Democrats have been unable to initiate proceedings to restore net neutrality. In March, the Senate Commerce Committee voted 14 to 14 to advance the nomination of Gigi Sohn to the FCC. The entire US Senate must hold a “discharge” vote on the nominations in addition to a final confirmation vote.
(Reporting by David ShepardsonEditing by Chizu Nomiyama)
Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.