Stung by 3 court losses, ISPs stop fighting California’s net neutrality law

Stung by 3 court losses, ISPs stop fighting California’s net neutrality law

Stung by 3 court losses, ISPs stop fighting California's net neutrality law

The words

The broadband industry has dropped its lawsuit against California’s net neutrality law after a series of court rulings were handed down against internet service providers.

The four broadband lobby groups that sued California “hereby stipulate that this action be dismissed without prejudice,” they wrote in a filing Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The ISP groups are ACA Connects (formerly American Cable Association), CTIA-The Wireless Association, NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, and USTelecom.

“After losing three times in federal court, ISPs finally realized they couldn’t overturn California’s net neutrality law and just had to stop trying,” Professor Barbara van Schewick wrote. of law at Stanford, calling the development a “historic victory for Californians.” and the open Internet.”

“Thanks to the hard work of the California Attorney General and the broad coalition that helped defend the law in court, ISPs gave up instead of fighting in the Supreme Court,” she also wrote.

Preliminary injunction refused three times

ISPs had sought a preliminary injunction to block the law before the case went to trial, but repeatedly failed. First, U.S. District Judge John Mendez refused to grant the preliminary injunction sought in February 2021, allowing California to enforce its net neutrality rules.

The ISPs then appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, but in January 2022 a three-judge panel unanimously upheld the lower court’s decision. Finally, ISPs have requested a bench hearing with all the judges of the court. No judge on the 29-seat appeals court thought the broadband industry’s petition for a rehearing was even worth voting for.

“The whole court has been informed of the request for a rehearing benchand no judge has called for a vote on whether to rehear the case bench. The request for rehearing bench is denied,” the order against the ISPs said on April 20.

The ISPs could have proceeded with a trial in the US District Court, as denial of a preliminary injunction does not prevent further litigation. But the appeals court judges’ denials combined with Mendez’s criticism of the ISPs’ legal arguments apparently persuaded the lobby groups not to move forward.

“ISPs threw in the towel today to challenge California’s net neutrality law,” Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior adviser to the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, said in a statement after yesterday’s dismissal. “They were forced to accept what most observers had seen: following the Federal Communications Commission’s decision disclaiming any interest in treating broadband access service as federally regulated, States were free to adopt their own requirements.”

After the layoff, the industry groups released a statement saying “broadband providers are united in support of an open Internet” and “are committed to working with Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to develop a federal approach to resolving the issues.” problems,” according to Reuters. But despite claiming to support the principles of net neutrality, broadband lobby groups have always opposed net neutrality rules at the federal and state level.

Judge: the law does not support the arguments of the ISPs

In his oral decision against the preliminary injunction, Mendez said, “I do not find that the plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits at this stage of the litigation.”

ISPs “claimed that the Communications Act gives the FCC exclusive authority to regulate interstate communications, leaving states only able to regulate purely intrastate communications,” Mendez said. “But the court finds that the provisions of the law on which the plaintiffs rely do not support the arguments that have been raised.”

California’s net neutrality law is similar to federal rules that were enacted by the FCC under the Obama administration and then repealed under the Trump era. California prohibits fixed and mobile ISPs from blocking or throttling legal traffic and states that ISPs may not charge websites or online services to deliver or prioritize their traffic to consumers. California law also prohibits paid data cap exemptions (known as “zero-rating”) and states that ISPs cannot attempt to evade net neutrality protections by slowing down traffic at network interconnection points. .

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