Public Knowledge Takes Early Shot at Net Reg Rollback

Files premature petition just in case venue lottery accepts them
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Just to make sure it has a dog in the race to overturn the FCC's net neutrality regulation rollback in court, Public Knowledge has filed a "protective petition," asking a federal court to review the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom Order.

That was the FCC's Dec. 14 decision to roll back the net neutrality regs and reclassify ISPs as Title I information services rather than Title II telecom services.

The group concedes the legal move is purely procedural.

Related: Dems: Net Neutrality Will Be ‘Mammoth’ Midterm Issue

Public Knowledge believes that a decision is not ripe for challenge until it has been published in the Federal Register, which could happen any day but hasn't yet—it was voted Dec. 14. The organization wants to make sure it is represented if the lottery to pick a venue is held based on premature filings, as it says has happened in the past.

If challenges to the same decision are filed in different circuits, as is expected in this case, there is a lottery to choose the venue.

Public Knowledge filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which upheld the FCC's 2015 Open Internet order—a party line Democratic-supported decision, which the Dec. 14 decision by Republicans rolled back.

Related: Markey: All 49 Dems Will Co-Sponsor Net Reg Rollback

“While we believe that under the best reading of the rules the FCC's Order is not ripe for challenge until it is published in the Federal Register, in the past the judicial lottery—which determines which appellate court will hear a challenge to an FCC action—has been run based on premature petitions. Thus, to protect our rights, we have filed today," said Public Knowledge senior counsel John Bergmayer.

“In other words, this is a purely procedural move, and we would not object if all early-filed petitions were held in abeyance by the FCC and the lottery is conducted based only on challenges filed after Federal Register publication. Of course, we will file to challenge the FCC at that time, as well.”

(Photo via Rock1997Image taken on Jan. 18, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 16x9 aspect ratio.)

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