Verizon, MetroPCS Claim Net Neutrality Rules Violate Free Speech

Tim Kenneally
The Wrap
Verizon, MetroPCS Claim Net Neutrality Rules Violate Free Speech

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) isn't done trying to establish a right to regulate the Internet -- and Verizon and MetroPCS aren't done trying to prevent them from doing so.

Verizon and MetroPCS filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit on Monday, claiming that the Commission's Net neutrality rules, which were adopted in September, are unnecessary, harmful to competition,and unconstitutional.

Specifically, the companies argue that the rules violate their First Amendment right to free speech "by stripping them of control over the transmission of speech on their networks."

Also read: FCC Finalizes Net Neutrality Rules; Sets Start Date of Nov. 20

In the brief, Verizon and Metro PCS take issue with rules set by the FCC which allow the FCC to impose fines and bring injunctions against companies that slow down internet service for customers who are streaming movies or downloading music. 

Arguing that the rules are "unconstitutional" and "arbitrary and capricious," Verizon and Metro note that the court vacated the FCC's previous effort to impose Net neutrality rules on grounds that it was an overreach on the Commission's part. In moving to adopt the rules a second time in September, the companies claim, the FCC is attempting to grab even more power than it did the first time.

Also read: Verizon Appeals FCC's Net Neutrality Rules

"Rather than proceeding with caution in light of [the previous ruling], the FCC unilaterally adopted rules that go even farther than its prior action and impose dramatic new restrictions on broadband Internet access service providers."

The companies argue that the FCC is "requiring [broadband providers] to carry the traffic of all 'edge providers' and even wading into price controls by setting a uniform, nondiscriminatory price of zero for such carriage. This regulation of Internet access service is expressly prohibited by the Communications Act."

Verizon and MetroPCS further claim that the FCC adopted the rules "without any evidence of a systematic problem in need of a solution."

Also read: Barry Diller to Senate Group: Net Neutrality Crucial for Competition

According to the complaint, the FCC is attempting to apply common-carrier regulation to broadband Internet access and mobile wireless broadband Internet access, when by the FCC's own previous findings say that such services are exempt from common carrier regulation.

The FCC has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment, but FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has argued in the past that the new rules keep the internet open and free.

In April 2011, the D.C. Court of Appeals dismissed a suit from Verizon aimed at overturning the FCC's rules. In its decision, the court said that the companies needed to wait until the new regulations were published in the Federal Register before any appeal could be heard.

Since the rules are now a matter of public record, Verizon and MetroPCS are taking another shot at blocking the rules, filing an appeal in late September, followed by Monday's brief outlining its argument.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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Barry Diller to Senate Group: Net Neutrality Crucial for Competition

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