Fcc suit

The Internet Association, whose members include Indian American CEO-led Google and Microsoft, is planning to sue the Federal Communications Commission over its decision to strip away net neutrality. FCC chairman Ajit Pai (above), meanwhile, is skipping the CES gadget show because of death threats. (IANS/FCC)

A major trade group that represents some Internet giants such as Google, led by Indian American CEO Sundar Pichai, and Satya Nadella-led Microsoft Jan. 5 said that it plans to sue the Federal Communications Commission over its decision to strip away net neutrality.

The Internet Association, which also represents firms such as Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, eBay and dozens more, said it would be joining what will likely be a multi-pronged legal attack against the FCC's rewritten rules, according to a news release.

Approved last month under FCC’s Indian American chairman Ajit Pai, the new rules make it legal for Internet providers such as AT&T and Verizon to speed up or slow down websites at will, as well as to block them outright.

"The final version of Chairman Pai's rule, as expected, dismantles popular net neutrality protections for consumers," the Internet Association said in a statement. "This rule defies the will of a bipartisan majority of Americans and fails to preserve a free and open internet.

"IA intends to act as an intervenor in judicial action against this order and, along with our member companies, will continue our push to restore strong, enforceable net neutrality protections through a legislative solution," it added.

No suit can officially be filed until the FCC rules are published in the Federal Register. According to the Washington Post, citing analysts, that could take several weeks.

The FCC had gone to court over net neutrality in 2015 and the Democratic-led commission successfully defended a legal challenge from the cable and telecom industries, who alleged that the FCC had overstepped its authority in passing the rules, the Post reported.

The new vote passed by the FCC promises to raise even more blowback from Internet firms.

Supporters of the rules argue that they represent a vital consumer protection, and have vowed not only to fight the FCC decision in court but also to seek solutions at the state level and in Congress.

Opponents of the rules plan to argue that the regulations discouraged Internet providers from building out their broadband networks to underserved areas, and that the FCC lacked the authority to regulate Internet providers like legacy telephone companies in the first place.

A Sen. Ed Markey-led resolution of disapproval of the net neutrality repeal Jan. 8 reached 30 senator sponsors, which propels it to the Senate floor for a vote. The resolution would overturn the FCC’s Dec. 14, 2017, decision to destroy net neutrality, which will be introduced after the agency delivers the final rules to Congress in the coming weeks.

Indian American U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., was among the senators who sponsored the resolution.

In related news, AP reports that Pai is skipping the CES gadget show because of death threats.

Pai and his staff have called out racist tweets and death threats against the chairman.

Pai was supposed to speak on a CES panel in Las Vegas this week, but the Wall Street Journal, tech blog Recode and others reported the death threats, citing unidentified people.

The FCC confirmed his withdrawal, but spokesman Brian Hart says the agency doesn't comment on security measures or concerns.

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