Attorney General Tom Miller joins suit against net neutrality repeal

(File photo) Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller talks about a rebate agreement for the opioid overdose antidote Naloxone Hydrochloride during a news conference at the Cedar Rapids Fire Department Central Fire Station in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
(File photo) Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller talks about a rebate agreement for the opioid overdose antidote Naloxone Hydrochloride during a news conference at the Cedar Rapids Fire Department Central Fire Station in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has joined 21 other state attorney generals in a federal lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission for its December vote to repeal net neutrality rules.

In a Tuesday news release, Miller said he is joining attorneys general in 21 states, and the District of Columbia, in a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit against the commission and the federal government.

“By repealing these rules, the FCC changed the so-called ‘internet of things’ to the internet of kings,” Miller said in the release. “The FCC shouldn’t let providers be internet kingmakers through pay-for-play digital on-ramps. Consumers and small businesses alike should expect no less than equal access to internet content ... Unfettered data access shouldn’t be a luxury — it’s a necessity that’s vital to our nation’s economy and our state’s economy.”

The commission in December voted to repeal net neutrality rules — originally adopted in 2015 to ban the blocking or slowing of web content by internet service providers. The rule is not expected to take effect for several months, but soon after that vote, state attorneys general pledged to sue the commission.

Citing the Administrative Procedure Act, Miller states the FCC cannot make “arbitrary and capricious” changes to existing policies, such as net neutrality.

The FCC’s new rule “fails to justify the commission’s departure from its long-standing policy and practice of defending net neutrality, while misinterpreting and disregarding critical record evidence on industry practices and harm to consumers and businesses,” the release states.

Miller added the repeal could have even larger implications on rural states like Iowa.

“In our rural areas, where many consumers may have only a single internet service provider at best, the FCC’s repeal means that provider now gets to pick winners and losers by choosing what content you can load fast, slow, or not at all,” Miller said. “I’m concerned that this could widen our existing urban-rural digital divide.”

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Officials with Mediacom and ImOn Communications have said the repeal of net neutrality will not have a negative impact on local services.

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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