Court Set to Stop Net Neutrality?

There is a good chance net neutrality regulations might be stopped before they are ever allowed to take effect, according to Republican Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Robert McDowell. Broadcasting & Cable reports:

Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell says he thinks that there is a “better than average chance” that a court, likely the D.C. circuit, will stay the FCC’s network neutrality rules.

That came in an appearance June 29 on Fox News’ online program Power Play with Chris Stirewalt.

McDowell dissented from the rules, which passed in a party line vote Dec. 21, 2010.

Currently, the net neutrality regulations are stuck in a vetting process. The FCC announced Thursday that it was done with its vetting and now will hand the matter over to the Office of Management and Budget, who will also undertake vetting. This likely means that even if the court does not issue a stay, the regulations will not go into effect until October or November.

If and when the rules are ultimately implemented, various groups and businesses intend to challenge them in court.

McDowell said there are “a lot” of potential appellants. Those won’t include the nation’s biggest cable operator, Comcast, which has pledged not to challenge the rules as part of its NBCU merger agreement, and would be subject to network neutrality rules even if they are stayed per that NBCU order.

The court issuing a stay or striking down the rules altogether is probably the best chance for preventing net neutrality from being implemented. As we have previously reported, House Republicans are attempting to defund FCC net neutrality efforts, but those efforts have gone nowhere in a Democratic-controlled Senate, and would not be viewed favorably by President Obama, a longtime advocate of net neutrality.

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