Not even a month has passed since the Federal Communications Commission adopted what open Internet advocates are calling "limited" net neutrality rules, and already Republican lawmakers are looking to block their enforcement. What's more, Verizon filed suit challenging the FCC's authority to enforce the rules.
Wait, didn't we do this already? Well, yes.
The first time around, Comcast complained that the FCC didn't have authority to order the company to stop blocking peer-to-peer traffic on its network. After all, the agency wasn't enforcing any hard and fast rules, just a few principles it had adopted.
Before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued its decision, the FCC revealed the formal net neutrality rules it hoped to adopt. But then the court decided the FCC had overstepped its bounds by telling Comcast how to manage its network because it had no statutory authority to do so.
That decision prompted much debate-in Congress, in the industry, in the court of public opinion and inside the FCC-as to what the agency's options were to keep net neutrality alive. In the end, there were three, Network World's Brad Reed explains:
The FCC essentially had three basic options for moving on net neutrality: It could do nothing, it could wait for Congress to draft network neutrality legislation or it could decide to reclassify broadband services as telecommunications, rather than information services, to gain regulatory authority.
The agency ultimately chose not to do any of those things, but instead drafted and adopted a watered-down version of its rules that was largely based on a proposal developed by Verizon and Google under which wireline broadband providers are prohibited from blocking "lawful content, applications, services or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management."
Now, Verizon is making the same argument Comcast did: The FCC doesn't have the authority to adopt or enforce these rules. And it's making the argument in front of the same court that heard Comcast's case. It makes sense that the court will most likely reach the same conclusion in this case that it did then.
The only thing that doesn't make sense is Verizon challenging a set of rules it essentially helped draft.