OTI Applauds Decisive, Unequivocal Win for Consumers and Internet Freedom

Press Release
June 14, 2016

Today, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld The Open Internet Order, which reclassified broadband under Title II as a common carrier service. The court also upheld wireless networks’ inclusion in the Order, which paves the way for a common regulatory framework for Internet access, as consumers move more frequently between wireline and wireless access. The lawsuit, which was filed by several Internet service providers and their trade associations in 2015, challenged the FCC’s legal authority to adopt the order.

New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) formally joined the case as an intervenor in May 2015, joining Free Press, Public Knowledge, and several technology companies to defend the FCC against the lawsuit. OTI was represented by Kevin Russell, a partner at Goldstein & Russell, P.C., who has argued multiple cases before the Supreme Court.

OTI was confident the FCC chose the most legally sound way to preserve and protect an open Internet for all Americans—confidence that was reinforced by the court’s decision today.

The following quote can be attributed to Sarah J. Morris, Director of Open Internet Policy at the Open Technology Institute:

"Today’s decision from the D.C. Circuit is a tremendous and decisive win for all Americans. For over a decade, advocates and policymakers have debated the best path forward for strong net neutrality rules. The decision affirms the FCC’s historic 2015 Open Internet Order in full, including the FCC’s decision to ground its rules in Title II authority, to exert authority to protect consumers against harms stemming from interconnection disputes, and to extend its strong rules to mobile Internet connections.

The rules ensure that everyone receives fair treatment online. For underserved communities, particularly communities of color, rural residents, and low-income users, equal access is especially vital. The court’s decision recognizes the value of an open platform over which all voices have a space and all ideas can flourish—where even the smallest of startups can grow, all users access the content of their choosing, and communities can organize without interference from their ISPs.

The decision effectively closes the book on the debate around the FCC’s authority to promulgate the rules, and the rules themselves. Further, as the FCC continues its important work to reform the Universal Service Fund to support broadband service and implement consumer privacy protections, its authority to do so is confirmed.

We are grateful for the thoughtful and arduous work that the FCC put into its 2015 rules, and applaud the leadership of Chairman Wheeler, the support and efforts of Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel, and the tireless efforts of the FCC’s legal team and bureau staff."

The following quote can be attributed to Michael Calabrese, Director of the Wireless Future Program at the Open Technology Institute:

“The court clearly understood that at a time when most consumers rely primarily on mobile devices, different and weaker rules for wireless Internet access make no sense. This decision means that as consumers increasingly move seamlessly between mobile carrier, Wi-Fi and wireline connections, they benefit from a common set of strong net neutrality protections. If the FCC is faithful in enforcing the Open Internet Order, youth, low-income communities, and communities of color will benefit the most because surveys show they disproportionately rely on mobile devices as their primary and often exclusive way to access the Internet.”