Man at computer (184300)
Credit: Pixabay

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that he’s suing the Federal Communications Commission over its decision to repeal net neutrality rules last week. Schneiderman said that the decision would negatively affect New Yorkers.

“The FCC’s vote to rip apart net neutrality is a blow to New York consumers, and to everyone who cares about a free and open internet,” said Schneiderman. “The FCC just gave Big Telecom an early Christmas present, by giving internet service providers yet another way to put corporate profits over consumers. Today’s rollback will give ISPs new ways to control what we see, what we do and what we say online. That’s a threat to the free exchange of ideas that’s made the internet a valuable asset in our democratic process.”

In a 3-2 vote going strictly by party lines, the FCC voted to repeal rules set in place by former president Barack Obama that treated the internet as public utility.

“Not only was there no problem, this ‘solution’ hasn’t worked,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in his statement. “The main complaint consumers have about the internet is not and has never been that their internet service provider is blocking access to content. It’s that they don’t have access at all or enough competition. These regulations have taken us in the opposite direction from these consumer preferences. Under Title II, investment in high-speed networks has declined by billions of dollars.” The FCC’s official document of the vote refers to the 2015 regulation from the Obama administration “heavy-handed.”

In her dissenting statement, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said her agency has abdicated responsibility to protect broadband consumers.

“Why are we witnessing such an unprecedented groundswell of public support, for keeping the 2015 net neutrality protections in place?” asked Clyburn. “Because the public can plainly see, that a soon-to-be-toothless FCC, is handing the keys to the internet—the internet, one of the most remarkable, empowering, enabling inventions of our lifetime—over to a handful of multibillion dollar corporations. And if past is prologue, those very same broadband internet service providers, that the majority says you should trust to do right by you, will put profits and shareholder returns above what is best for you.”

Schneiderman joins with Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and others who’ve also announced intentions to sue the FCC. He’s spent a most of this year going after the FCC via an investigation into the comment process on net neutrality. The AG’s investigation found that 2 million comments were under the names of stolen identities of real Americans (some of them deceased) including more than 100,000 from New York.

“This is not just an attack on the future of our internet,” said Schneiderman. “It’s an attack on all New Yorkers, and on the integrity of every American’s voice in government—and we will fight back.”