Internet service providers are ganging up to fight net neutrality.
In fact, the entire internet broadband industry has sued the state of Vermont to block the state’s net neutrality law.
Currently, the state net neutrality law says that internet service providers in the state have to follow net neutrality rules in order to qualify for government contracts.
More specifically though, the biggest broadband internet industry lobby groups in the country have jointly sued the state of Vermont in order to put a stop to a state law which requires all internet service providers to adhere to net neutrality rules and principles in order to first qualify for and then get government contracts.
Many mobile industry lobby groups such as CTIA, telco lobby USTelecom, NCTA (the cable industry lobby group), the New England Cable and Telecommunications Association and also the ACA (American Cable Association) which mostly represents mid-size and small cable companies.
The ACA, USTelecom, NCTA and the CTIA also sued the state of California in the past in order to put a stop to a net neutrality law which they considered much stricter.
However, now this lobby group is doing everything it can in order to expand that legal battle to a multiple number of states.
As mentioned before as well, these lobby groups actually represent all the largest home and mobile internet service providers working in the United States of America.
What we haven’t mentioned is that, this same lobby group also involves hundreds of other smaller internet service providers.
Among other group members are the likes of CenturyLink, Frontier, Cox, Sprint, T-Mobile US, Verizon, AT&T, Charter, and Comcast.
The net neutrality law only applies to government contracts
The state of Vermont is different from the state of California in the sense that the net neutrality law in California applies to each and every consumer broadband internet service provider.
In Vermont, the net neutrality law has a much narrower application area.
Hence, it has a better chance of surviving the legal challenge coming its way.
The net neutrality law in the state of Vermont actually creates a whole process via which internet service providers have the opportunity to certify that they have actually complied with the given guidelines related to net neutrality.
Moreover, the net neutrality law in the state of Vermont also says that all state agencies may only have permission to buy broadband internet services from internet service providers once they have obtained all the required certifications.
The governor of Vermont, Phil Scott (also a Republican) recently issued an official executive order that imposed similar looking requirements on all state agencies.
Perhaps it is because of that executive order, the broadband internet industry has brought the lawsuit which has asked the court to make a ruling and both the federal law preempts both the governor’s executive order and the Vermont state law.
The previously-mentioned lobby group also point to the FCC, Federal Communications Commission’s repeal on the country-wide net neutrality laws.
They do that because the Federal Communications Commission order claimed full authority to preempt any and all state laws regarding net neutrality.
The governor’s executive order and the law in the state of Vermont impose fairly pervasive common-carrier mandates regarding net neutrality on any and all internet service providers the moment these broadband internet services sign a new service contract with the given state.
This is what the lawsuit brought forward by the industry has said.
The industry complaint also states that the federal law plainly preempted the state of Vermont’s recent attempts to not only receive but also expand a repealed regulatory regime.
According to the lawsuit, the above-mentioned outcome as discussed by the lawsuit document in more details was brought forward by the members of the government in Vermont to the attention of the Governor and General Assembly in Vermont before they actually made the decision to adopt all those measures.
However, they actually disregarded when the time came to move forward with the required related actions.
Hence, under the United States Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, any state measures which contravened validly adopted United States policy determinations and federal laws including the ones contained in the Federal Communications Commission ordered were preempted and had no effect or force.
Some believe that federal laws also preempt the state law because of the obvious inherently interstate nature of any given broadband internet service.
The state of Vermont is likely to fight the lawsuit
Vermont has said that in order to get properly certified for government contracts, internet service providers have to demonstrate that they stay away from activities such as throttling and blocking lawful online traffic.
They also have to show that they do not engage in various paid prioritization programs.
Apart from that, the certification also forbids internet service providers from engaging in any kind of misleading or deceptive marketing practices which misrepresent the actual treatment of online content or traffic to its customers.
Internet service providers who are seeking Vermont state certification also must go through the process of disclosing accurate details publicly about their own network performance, network management practices and the exact commercial terms of their specific internet service.
Regardless, Scott has not stayed away from criticizing the various lobby groups.
He said that he would work with the Vermont state attorney general’s office in order to mount a defense against the lobby lawsuit.
Scott made an official statement in which he said that the state’s net neutrality legislation along with his own executive order demonstrated a clear and concise commitment from the state’s elected officials, across party lines and branches to promoting and preserving an open and free internet, at least, in the state of Vermont.
He also said that he felt disappointed when he heard that cable organizations and national telecom planned to sue the state for doing nothing but taking action in order to protect the state’s economy and its people.
Apart from that, he said he understood that in order to ensure a thriving and vibrant cable and telecom sector, the state must offer consistent regulation.
He also said that the state’s obligation as the current government was to the state’s citizens.
Furthermore, he added, the people living in the state strongly believed that they had the right to open and free access to all the information on the internet.
Concluding his remarks, he said that states have to take action when there is an absence of any national standard to protect their right to open and free internet.