Net neutrality repeal will go the distance in the courts

I have to hand it to the Republicans so far during this 112th Congress. When they say they are going to repeal something, they mean it. Yesterday, the House Sub-committee on Communications and Technology voted to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rule.

I wasn’t surprised given the majority that the Republicans have in the House. I would be really surprised if the Senate were to follow suit, but unfortunately that is not going to happen. For some reason, net neutrality, which has the backing of President Obama, has become the holy grail of the far and unreasonable left. Democrats in the Senate are not about to let their base get away that easily by disappointing them with some compromise on net neutrality. Besides, the Senate Democrats will have Mr. Obama provide the cover they need in the form of a threatened veto.

No, this one will get settled in the courts. MetroPCS and Verizon’s challenge to the net neutrality rules in the courts of appeal may lead to a showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court. Unfortunately, all this does is keep the level of uncertainty high for broadband access providers and their investors. The Roberts court is not a the source for corporate-siding slam dunk decisions as its recent ruling on personal privacy for corporations ruling has shown.

AT&T loses personal privacy argument

Posted March 2nd, 2011 in AT&T, FCC, Government Regulation, U.S. Supreme Court and tagged , , , by Alton Drew

The U.S. Supreme Court today found that corporations do not have the protection of the Freedom of Information Act’s personal privacy exemption. The court was not persuaded by AT&T’s argument that by law, the communications giant was a person, and that since the words “person” and “personal” are derivatives of each other, AT&T had a right to claim certain information off limits to the public when that information is provided to an agency as part of a law enforcement investigation.

The court reasoned that no other court had ever given a corporation personal privacy rights and that within the context of how the law was written, the word personal ordinarily referred to individuals versus corporate entities.

It’s not like AT&T will be out any additional money from this one. The company already gave the FCC a $500,000 check, voluntarily claiming mi culpa after noticing it had over-billed the FCC’s e-rate program. The problem started when Comptel, an telecommunications trade association wanted a look see at the files AT&T provided to the FCC during the agency’s investigation.

It’s too bad the court ruled the wrong way. I have to admit the court’s rationale was pretty sound. Unfortunately, that sound reasoning may open the flood gates to nosey grass roots advocates who may swear up and down that they smell a rat and have a right to see certain records every time somebody files a consumer complaint.