Press Release

Attorney General Shapiro Files Lawsuit to Stop Illegal Rollback of Net Neutrality

January 16, 2018 | Topic: Rights

Coalition of 22 Attorneys General Files Petition for Review, Formally Commencing Lawsuit

Attorney General Josh Shapiro today, with a coalition of 22 Attorneys General, filed a lawsuit to block the Federal Communications Commission’s illegal rollback of Net Neutrality. Attorney General Shapiro and the coalition filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, formally commencing the lawsuit against the FCC and the federal government.

“The vote by the Federal Communications Commission last month to gut Net Neutrality threatens to end the Internet as we know it,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “The FCC’s action undermines free speech and is bad for consumers and business—especially startups and small businesses. I filed this lawsuit today with my colleagues to stop this rollback from being implemented.”

Shapiro noted that the FCC’s vote to rollback Net Neutrality came as controversy grew over more than 2 million fraudulent comments sent to the FCC, including an estimated 100,000 fake comments from Pennsylvanians. In response to the fake comments, Shapiro’s office created a website, badcomments.attorneygeneral.gov where consumers could look and see if their name was used fraudulently to influence the FCC’s process. As of today, 3,323 people filed on the website that their identities were used to send fake comments to the FCC, and 350,000 people have visited the site.

“The theft of someone’s voice in our democracy cannot stand, and we must get to the bottom of this massive identity theft,” Shapiro said. “That is a compelling reason the FCC should not press forward with its action to rollback Net Neutrality rules.”

Click here to read the petition concerning today’s lawsuit, which in addition to Attorney General Shapiro, is signed by the Attorneys General of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The repeal of Net Neutrality would have dire consequences for consumers and businesses in Pennsylvania and across the country that rely on a free and open internet – allowing internet service providers to block certain content, charge consumers more to access certain sites, and throttle or slow the quality of content from content providers that don’t pay more.

Under the Administrative Procedure Act, the FCC cannot make “arbitrary and capricious” changes to existing policies, such as Net Neutrality.  The FCC’s new rule fails to justify the Commission’s departure from its long-standing policy and practice of defending Net Neutrality, while misinterpreting and disregarding critical record evidence on industry practices and harm to consumers and businesses.

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