Consumer Groups Challenge FCC Cable Ruling
Consumer advocacy groups filed an appeal Monday to the U.S.
The challenge, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is intended to prevent cable companies from being able to lock out Internet content that might compete with television programming or online content, and it also seeks to promote local competition for Internet services, says Cheryl Leanza, deputy director of the
"The Internet as we have it now is a wide-open medium," she says. Well-heeled cable companies want it to become "a walled garden that keeps individuals in their passive role as consumers."
The FCC defined cable Internet services as an "information service" earlier in March, largely taking them out of the
Local phone companies
The challenge to the FCC ruling seeks to force open access for cable Internet services in the same way that phone companies are required to open their networks.
It is possible, however, that the result of a court battle could be the opposite of the intent of the consumer groups that filed the challenge. A court seeking to apply the same rules to cable Internet services and high-speed Internet services over phone lines could strike down open access requirements for phone companies that want to offer Internet services.
"The underlying legal analysis could be applied to telephone Internet services," Leanza concedes.
The Media Access Project filed the challenge on behalf of Consumers Union, the organization that publishes Consumer Reports magazine, as well as the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Digital Democracy. Earthlink and Verizon Communications also have challenged the FCC ruling.