County of Santa Clara Files Petition Challenging Trump Administration’s Repeal of Net Neutrality Protections

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SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – This week the County of Santa Clara filed a petition for review in federal court challenging the Trump Administration’s unlawful repeal of net neutrality protections.  Filed by the Office of the County Counsel with assistance from Stanford Law School’s Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic, the petition seeks to preserve fair and open access to the internet.   

“The FCC’s decision to repeal the net neutrality rules harms start-ups, small companies and other businesses that rely on a level playing field to compete,” said Supervisor Joe Simitian, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. “It also hampers development of cutting-edge Internet technologies, and threatens the public’s ability to engage in the digital town square. The County is committed to protecting this important right.”

Net neutrality rules prohibit broadband internet service providers from discriminating against lawful internet traffic—generally by blocking it or slowing it down—for financial or other reasons.  In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued formal rules protecting net neutrality.  These rules offered critical protections for County residents, start-ups, small and large business, and County government.  The County has made substantial investments in systems that provide critical health, welfare and safety services over the Internet, and a reversal of the FCC’s net neutrality rules threatens the ability of County residents to access those and other critical web-based services.  On December 14, 2017, the FCC (now chaired by Trump appointee Ajit Pai), announced its decision to reverse course and eliminate its net neutrality rules.  That same day, the County declared its intent to file a lawsuit challenging the decision.

 Last Thursday, the FCC released its final order abandoning the rules.  Today, the County filed a “protective” petition for review as a precautionary move to preserve the County’s procedural rights in the litigation. 

“The FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules is unlawful and threatens the continued existence of the free and open Internet,” said Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams.  “The County provides many critical services to its residents through the Internet, and we will fight to ensure that the FCC’s unlawful actions do not undermine access to these and other vital online resources.”