Two assistant attorney generals from Rhode Island have been conferring with other states about suing the Federal Communications Commission for repealing net neutrality, the concept that every site and user on the internet are treated equally.
“It is anticipated that Rhode Island will join a coalition of States signing-on to a net neutrality lawsuit once it is filed,” said Amy Kempe, spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter Kilmartin.
“At this point, although the FCC has issued an oral decision, the process requires that the FCC issue a written decision and it is likely that a lawsuit will not occur before this written decision is issued,” she explained. “The time line for the FCC written decision is unknown but the states, including Rhode Island, are monitoring that timeline, coordinating efforts, and will act once a written decision is issued.”
Assistant Attorney Generals Michael Field, well-known as the chief of the Open Government Unit, and Leo Wold, Chief of the Public Utilities Unit, have been working with the multi-state group, Kempe said.
The effort includes at least 16 states: New York, Illinois, Maryland, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Oregon, Minnesota, Vermont, Maine, California, Hawaii, Mississippi, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, and the District of Columbia. New York has been leading the effort.
On the day the FCC voted 3 to 2 to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rules, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released this heavy-on-production value/light-on-legal reasoning YouTube video:
In a post titled The Fight for the Open Internet Isn’t Over, Slate technology writer April Glaser offered this take on what may give states standing to sue the FCC:
FCC Chair Ajit “Pai’s proposal argues that Congress and U.S. communications law says broadband should be classified as an information service and that he’s returning the internet to how Congress intended it to be regulated. “But that claim, according to Phillip Berenbroick, senior counsel at Public Knowledge, is in conflict with a 2005 Supreme Court interpretation that ruled it is up to the FCC to determine how the internet would be classified, which the FCC did in 2015, with the network neutrality rules Pai is trying to repeal. It also bucks a recent federal circuit court decision that reaffirmed the FCC’s authority to regulate the internet.”