On Wednesday afternoon the Federal Communications Commission filed its net neutrality order to the Federal Register, an FCC official confirmed to TechCrunch. Once published by the Register, the filing opens the gates to an inevitable outpouring of legal challenges from net neutrality opponents.
The FCC’s filing comes a week-and-a-half after the agency was slammed with the first lawsuits attempting to block the new rules. An FCC official said the lawsuits from both The United States Telecom Association and Alamo Broadband — which were filed just 12 days after the rules were published — jumped the gun and may be dismissed on the grounds they were filed too early.
In the coming days when the filing is formally published in the Federal Register, the providers will be on solid legal footing to submit such challenges. The rules go into effect 60 days after they are published by the Federal Register.
Before the FCC even released its net neutrality order, the agency’s chairman Tom Wheeler anticipated an influx of legal challenges to the new rules. He famously said, “The big dogs are going to sue regardless of what comes out.” But the FCC maintains that the rules were developed with potential challenges in mind, and as recently as last week, Wheeler said that the rules will withstand challenges in court.
In addition to private suits, the chairman is defending the rules to Congress, where Republicans have alleged the Obama administration exerted influence over the independent agency’s rule-making. The chairman recently completed a circuit of congressional hearings, testifying before five committees and subcommittees over the course of two weeks.