January 17, 2019 / 10:35 PM / 2 months ago

U.S. appeals court will not delay net neutrality case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal appeals court said on Thursday it would not delay oral arguments set for Feb. 1 on the Trump administration’s decision to repeal the 2015 landmark net neutrality rules governing internet providers.

Net neutrality advocates rally in front of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ahead of Thursday's expected FCC vote repealing so-called net neutrality rules in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday asked the court to delay the arguments over its December 2017 repeal, citing the partial government shutdown. Without comment, the court denied the request.

The FCC had no immediate comment on the decision.

A group of 22 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia have asked the court to reinstate the Obama-era internet rules and block the FCC’s effort to pre-empt states from imposing their own rules guaranteeing an open internet.

Several internet companies are also part of the legal challenge, including Mozilla Corp, Vimeo Inc and Etsy Inc (ETSY.O), as well as numerous media and technology advocacy groups and major cities, including New York and San Francisco.

The FCC voted to reverse the rules that barred internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes, also known as paid prioritization. The FCC said providers must disclose any changes in users’ internet access.

The net neutrality repeal was a win for providers like Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O), AT&T Inc (T.N) and Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), but was opposed by internet companies like Facebook Inc (FB.O), Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O).

Major providers have not made any changes in how Americans access the internet since the repeal.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said on Thursday that the lawsuits are aimed at overturning the agency’s “misguided” repeal of the Obama rules. “The fight for an open internet continues,” she wrote on Twitter.

The panel hearing the case is made up of Judges Robert Wilkins and Patricia Millett, two appointees of Barack Obama, and Stephen Williams, an appointee of Republican Ronald Reagan.

In October, California agreed not to enforce its own state net neutrality law until the appeals court’s decision on the 2017 repeal and any potential review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Peter Cooney, Alistair Bell and Bill Berkrot

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