Consumer Advocacy Groups Want to Join FCC, Defend Net Neutrality in Court

The groups worry a future Republican FCC would be less interested in defending the rules.

Consumer Advocacy Groups Want to Join FCC, Defend Net Neutrality in Court
Photo of Kevin Russell, partner at Goldstein, Russell and Woofter LLC and counsel for the public interest groups, from the firm's website.

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2023 – Consumer advocacy groups are looking to join the Federal Communications Commission in defending net neutrality rules against an industry court challenge.

The case is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati. Broadband trade groups sued to have the rules thrown out and have asked judges to issue a judicial stay by July 15.

Public Knowledge, Free Press, and New America’s Open Technology Institute, all represented by Kevin Russell of Goldstein, Russell and Woofter, filed a motion last night asking permission to join the case on the FCC’s behalf. The groups are worried that a Republican-controlled commission would not be interested in defending the rules.

“With an upcoming election and possible administration change, it is possible that the Commission may not take the same position it currently does now by the time this case is argued on the merits — and in that case, the lacuna between the agency’s interests and the movants’ would only widen,” they wrote. 

The agency first established net neutrality rules during the Obama administration, only to walk them back a few years later after the Trump administration came into power.

The issue continues to be a partisan one at the FCC, with both Republican commissioners voting against adoption of the rules.

Brendan Carr, an outspoken critic of the Biden administration’s telecom policy, issued a lengthy dissent and spoke for more than 30 minutes in opposition to the rules at the commission’s vote in April.

Without the stay requested by industry, net neutrality rules will go into effect on July 22.

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