Beshear Joining Fight to Block FCC’s Rollback of Broadband Protections or Net Neutrality

Andy Beshear

Attorney General Andy Beshear is asking an appeals court to block the federal government’s retreat from previous broadband protections that were meant to keep broadband and wireless providers from slowing or blocking Kentuckians’ internet service.

The protections, known as Net Neutrality, are at the heart of a lawsuit by Beshear and 22 other attorneys general asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to vacate and reverse the 2017 rollback of the regulations by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The brief by the AGs claims that the FCC’s order is arbitrary and capricious and puts consumers at risk of abusive practices by broadband providers; and that the FCC’s order preempts state and local regulation of broadband service.

“The internet is a part of our infrastructure that is just as critical as our roads and bridges,” Beshear said. “Small business, school districts and rural hospitals rely on the internet to help Kentucky families earn a living, educate our children and to provide critical medical services in every part of our state. We cannot give the power to slow, change or even shut down these services to a handful of major companies and simply trust they will do the right thing.”

According to the brief, the AGs argue that for more than 15 years the FCC has agreed that “an open internet free from blocking, throttling or other interference by service providers is critical to ensure that all Americans have access to the advanced telecommunications services that have become essential for daily life.”

The Dec. 14, 2017 order by the FCC represents a dramatic and unjustified departure from this long-standing commitment, the AGs argue.

The brief chronicles a list of companies and organizations that filed complaints or comments with the FCC but was not listed in the FCC’s final order. They include AARP, ADT Corporation, Amazon, American Association of Community Colleges, American Library Association, Apple, Black Women’s Roundtable, Charter Communications, Common Cause, Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership, Microsoft Corporation, NAACP, National Newspaper Publishers Association, Netflix, Twitter, United Church of Christ and Vimeo.

More than 20 million companies, organizations and individuals participated in the comment period.

Neighboring state AGs participating in the lawsuit include Illinois and Virginia.

In April, Beshear called on Kentucky’s executive branch to offer state protections to Kentuckians through an executive order similar to ones issued by governors in Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, New York and Vermont.

“If broadband or mobile internet service providers want to do business with the state, we should require they adhere to certain internet neutrality principles,” Beshear said. “We want to attract companies that are willing to provide reliable, high-quality broadband internet service to all Kentuckians.”

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