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Verizon in court to block net neutrality ruling

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Verizon Communications has filed an appeal in a US court to block the Federal Communications Commission's new net neutrality rules.

The edict, which dictates how internet service providers can manage their networks, is due to come into force on 20 November, despite much criticism from both neutral net nuts and big business.

If the FCC has its way, ISPs won't be able to block users from accessing lawful content or services, or prioritise certain traffic, e.g. making their own movie service stream faster than the competition's:

Fixed broadband providers may not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; mobile broadband providers may not block lawful web sites, or block applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services.

Providers would also be required to be transparent about how they manage their networks:

Fixed and mobile broadband providers must disclose the network management practices, performance characteristics, and terms and conditions of their broadband services.

Some critics of the rules say they don't want Big Brother regulating the internet in any way, while others argue that what the government has come up with are weak regulations that favour the companies with a large internet presence.

Verizon says the FCC has no authority to impose these kinds of rules and wants the US Court of Appeal in Washington DC to agree with it.

"We are deeply concerned by the FCC's assertion of broad authority to impose potentially sweeping and unneeded regulations on broadband networks and services and on the internet itself," Michael E. Glover, senior VP and deputy general counsel for Verizon said in a canned statement. "We believe this assertion of authority is inconsistent with the statute and will create uncertainty for the communications industry, innovators, investors and consumers."

He added that Verizon was, of course, "fully committed" to an open internet.

It's the second time Verizon has tried to block the FCC's rules, having already launched an appeal earlier in the year that the court threw out because it was premature. Usually, FCC regulations can't be challenged until they're published in the Federal Register, which has now been done.

The fight is also happening along party lines in the US, with the Democrats largely backing the FCC on the issue, while the Republicans want the rules overturned. ®

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