Attorneys general from 21 states and Washington, D.C., on Tuesday filed a legal challenge against the Federal Communications Commission’s effort to repeal net neutrality regulations.
The petition has been brought before the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and is being spearheaded by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The petitioners allege the Republican-led agency's rollback of the Obama-era Internet regulations are “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion."
"We can’t stand by and watch one of the greatest tools for democracy ever created be turned into a private playground for the rich and powerful," Schneiderman said in a statement posted to Twitter.
The attoneys general say the lawsuit was filed “out of an abundance of caution,” as the rule has yet to go into effect as it has not been published in the Federal Register, though they also recognize that the FCC order could "be construed to be final on the date that it was issued."
The FCC voted along party lines in December to dismantle the set of regulations that prohibited Internet providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service for specific content.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, has long argued the 2015 FCC decision was an example of executive overreach and that net neutrality hurt Internet innovation.
Democrats fear removing the regulations could put consumers at the mercy of large corporations. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said his party, with the support of one Republicans, has 50 votes for a resolution of disapproval to overrule the FCC. One more vote is needed to pass it.