The companies will intervene in a coming lawsuit through their trade group, the Internet Association.
A leading lobbying group for Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Twitter and other tech giants said Friday that it would be joining the coming legal crusade to restore the U.S. government’s net neutrality rules.
The Washington, D.C.-based Internet Association specifically plans to join a lawsuit as an intervening party, aiding the challenge to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s vote in December to repeal regulations that required internet providers like AT&T and Comcast* to treat all web traffic equally, its leader confirmed to Recode.
Technically, the Internet Association isn’t filing its own lawsuit. That task will fall to companies like Etsy, public advocates like Free Press and state attorneys general, all of which plan to contend they are most directly harmed by Pai’s decision, as Recode first reported this week.
As an intervener, though, the Internet Association still will play a crucial role, filing legal arguments in the coming case. And in formally participating, tech giants will have the right to appeal a judge’s decision later if Silicon Valley comes out on the losing end.
“The final version of Chairman Pai’s rule, as expected, dismantles popular net neutrality protections for consumers,” said the group’s chief, Michael Beckerman, 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,” he continued.
For now, net neutrality advocates cannot yet file their lawsuits challenging Pai. That’s because his repeal — the final text of which was released yesterday — still must be published in a government repository known as the Federal Register.
Once that and other administrative steps are complete, then Pai’s opponents can head to the courts, where they are expected to argue that he acted arbitrarily and capriciously — and defied the will of the public — in rolling back net neutrality rules. The safeguards, implemented under former President Barack Obama, treated internet providers similar to utilities, preventing them from blocking or slowing web traffic or prioritizing their own offerings over those from their rivals.
It’s hardly the first time that tech giants have gone to court to defend net neutrality. Before Pai scrapped the U.S. government’s open internet protections in 2017, the likes of AT&T and Verizon sought to strike them down with a court challenge of their own two years earlier. In that battle, the Internet Association filed a friend-of-the-court brief defending the Obama administration.
* Comcast, through its NBCU arm, is an investor in Vox Media, which owns this website.