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Free Press Files Challenge to FCC Net Neutrality Rules

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on September 29, 2011 4:05 PM

Free Press, a media reform advocacy group, filed a petition for review in the First Circuit Court of Appeals this week, challenging new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) net neutrality rules.

Washington insiders were expecting Verizon, which opposes net neutrality, to challenge the rules, reports AdWeek. The Free Press challenge is somewhat ironic, because Free Press actually supports net neutrality.

The new regulations bar wireline broadband providers from "unreasonable discrimination" against Web traffic, but don't restrict mobile broadband providers in the same way. Mobile broadband providers will be prohibited from blocking voice applications that compete with their services under the rules, but they can still block other applications, reports PC World.

Free Press argues that the FCC's distinction between wireline and broadband providers is arbitrary and capricious.

"The final rules provide some basic protections for consumers, but do not deliver on the promise to preserve openness for mobile Internet access. They fail to protect wireless users from discrimination, and they let mobile providers block innovative applications with impunity," Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said in a statement.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Internet service providers and conservatives argue that the FCC net neutrality rules overstep the agency's authority because the FCC does not have the power to regulate broadband. Verizon previously filed a challenge to the rules in December, but a court ruled that it could not hear the company's challenge until the FCC published the rules in the Federal Register, reports the National Journal.

Verizon is expected to re-file its challenge with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals this week, so the FCC can look forward to defending the new regulations both in D.C. and in the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

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