Can Net Neutrality Survive the Impending Onslaught of Lawsuits?
Here are three arguments cable and telecom giants are likely to use to try to kill the rules.
The Federal Communications Commission delivered a thrilling victory to Internet activists last week by approving sweeping net neutrality regulations, but critics already are plotting how to kill the rules in court.
Comcast has warned that “we all face inevitable litigation and years of regulatory uncertainty.” AT&T has pointed to “the uncertainty of litigation, and the very real potential of having to start over—again—in the future.” Industry lobbying associations like CTIA-the Wireless Association, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and the American Cable Association also have made it clear that they are considering lawsuits.
The FCC’s rules bar Internet providers from blocking any online content, selectively slowing down traffic, or offering “fast lanes” for sites that pay more. Supporters of the regulations argue that they are critical for preventing Internet providers from acting as “gatekeepers” and restricting what people can access online. The opponents consider the rules an illegal power grab that will burden companies, ultimately making Internet service slower and more expensive for everyone.
The specific legal arguments will largely depend on the language of the new rules, which the FCC still has not publicly released (although it has outlined the most important elements). Once the actual text is available, teams of highly paid lawyers for the cable and telecom companies are sure to examine every word of the 317 pages, searching for any weaknesses.
In such a complex and massive set of regulations, there are sure to be dozens of legal lines of attack. Here are three:
THE INTERNET ISN’T A ‘TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICE’
A key part of the net neutrality debate has been about the legal authority that the FCC uses to justify its regulations. The FCC’s new rules declare broadband Internet a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act—a provision that the agency has used for decades to regulate landline phone companies. The provision grants the FCC expansive powers over a company’s practices.
Net neutrality advocates argue that invoking Title II is the only way the FCC can enact rules that can stand up in court. The FCC first enacted net neutrality rules in 2010, but a federal court struck them down in early 2014. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC was inappropriately treating Internet providers like “common carriers” (essentially public utilities)—something the FCC could only do under Title II.
So for net neutrality advocates, the fix was simple: just classify Internet providers under Title II and enact new rules. But the critics say it isn’t so easy.
The Supreme Court in 2005 gave its stamp of approval to the FCC’s decision to treat broadband as an “information service” (a much weaker classification) instead of a “telecommunications service.” The FCC will have to convince the courts to let it change its mind.
“What’s changed now so that the services can be viewed differently?” asked Randolph May, the president of the Free State Foundation, which is opposed to the rules. “That’s going to be a challenge for the commission to sustain its position.”
But net neutrality supporters argue that the Supreme Court was only deferring to the FCC’s expert opinion at the time and say the courts are likely to defer again to the agency. Additionally, the market has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. Back then, more people relied on their Internet provider for e-mail and other Web services, so it made more sense to consider the providers as offering more than just telecommunications.
The FCC’s case for Title II reclassification is a “legal slam dunk” according to Barbara van Schewick, a Stanford University law professor and net neutrality advocate.
Now go and read all of this HERE.
How I may be (not saying if true) while waiting for coffee to brew….
LAUGHING AT THE DEATH OF OUR REPUBLIC
I’m glad that we can still laugh at the death of the American Republic.
The WSJ reports that everyone had a good chuckle at the Supreme Court this week during a discussion of the Affordable Care Act. The government lawyer derided Justice Alito’s suggestion that there would be no harm if the Court gutted the system of tax credits offered by the federal government.
“What about Congress?” asked Justice Scalia. “You really think Congress is just going to sit there while all these disastrous consequences ensue?”
“This Congress?” Mr. Verrilli replied. The audience erupted into laughter.
That’s right. No one, right or left, expects Congress to do anything.
That’s why the case hinges on whether the Obama administration can interpret a preposition “by” to mean “in.” Americans don’t trust Congress to pass thoughtful, well-crafted laws. We also don’t trust Congress to fix poorly worded laws after problems become apparent.
This situation reminds me a bit of where the Roman Republic found itself in the first century BC.
The Roman Senate had long been the most influential political institution of the Roman state, but factionalism began to take its toll. Some senators promoted the interests of the lower strata of Roman society over and against the senatorial families. Some senators tried to curtail the growing political influence of “the people.” Senators on both sides tended to use their faction to further their personal political success rather than to promote the health of the Roman state.
The Senate lost its credibility.
Rome faced myriad social crises in the first century BC. I can imagine one Roman citizen asking another, “You really think the Senate is just going to sit there while all these disastrous consequences ensue?” His interlocutor would undoubtedly laugh and reply, “This Senate?”
The Senate couldn’t rule so the people looked to strongmen to lead them. The succession of strongmen and their civil wars eventually gave rise to the Roman imperial system. During the first hundred years or so, this new system looked just like the old Republic, but Rome had a guy named Caesar making sure that the institutions of government ran smoothly. If a law turned out to contain problems or unforeseen consequences, Caesar could fix it.
Now, even though the Roman people began putting all their faith and hope in this one man named Caesar, they didn’t actually notice that their Republic had died until about a hundred years after the fact. All the old institutions were still there.
I’m not saying that we’re heading in the same direction as Rome. I actually think we’ve already charted a different course. But like the ancient Romans, our Republic is dead—it has been dead a long time. And like the ancient Romans, we’re just starting to notice.
In my estimation, the American Republic died one hundred and fifty years ago during the Civil War when Lincoln established the IRS. Out of the ashes of our Republic rose the American Bureaucracy, which shepherded us through the process of becoming a superpower.
Continue reading this one HERE>
Muslims Whine: Anti-Terror Device That Spays Pig Blood on Attackers is ‘Deeply Offensive’
Some wag of an inventor in the U.S. has created what he calls an “anti-terror device” that when triggered sprays pigs blood on attackers. But now several Muslim groups are whining that the device is “deeply offensive” to their religion. Yeah… I think that is the idea!
Tampa, Florida inventor Franklin R Lacy invented the device to scare off terrorists who, being Muslim, might be afraid to get sprayed with pig blood since pigs are deemed “unclean” in Islam.
Naturally, Muslims are furious over the device…
He has applied for a patent on a “system for protecting against terrorist and illegal invasion” which cruelly exploits the Islamic ban on eating or even handling pork.
The inventor’s previous work includes a beverage heater, fudge warmer and a windshield for a boat.
He learned of the strict Islamic laws on pig blood during “extensive travels” in the Middle East.
His invention involves placing containers of clearly labelled pig blood in sensitive areas, in the hope suicide attackers would avoid detonating a bomb nearby for fear of getting covered in it.
…”It will keep suicide bombers from blowing themselves up near the container of pig blood because they believe that they would be guaranteed not to go to heaven,” Lacy wrote.
…Fiyaz Mughal, director of the interfaith group Faith Matters, said the device has “been created by someone who seeks to humiliate specific faiths”.
“The patent is particularly troubling if used against Jews or Muslims, because it would be deeply offensive and insulting to their faith and beliefs,” Mughal continued.
“It also means that such a product could foment community tensions and so this is very troubling indeed. One has to wonder about the mindset of someone producing such a product.”
So, here’s an idea for Muslims afraid of this device, DON’T go around trying to blow something up!
Yeah it is a finger stuck in the eye of Muslims, granted. But here’s the thing. It wouldn’t really be effective. After all, Muslims have no supposedly religious principle that they won’t ignore so they can continue killing people. If these devices become widespread leading to Muslims being prevented from killing people, all the Muslims will do is proclaim a religious exemption for bombers getting doused with pigs blood. Then they could go right back to murdering as many people as possible, pigs blood or not.
In the end, using pig parts to try and prevent Muslim violence wouldn’t do a thing to stop them.