January 31, 2011, 1:42 PM — The Federal Communications Commission asked a D.C. federal court Friday to throw out lawsuits from Verizon and MetroPCS for critically important reasons that go to the heart of not only this case, but the mission of the FCC and its right to regulate the most important communications medium of our time.
Wait, no. That's not right.
The FCC wants the suits thrown out because they were filed too soon -- before the FCC published its weak net neutrality regulatory order in the Federal Register.
That means the lawsuits and the charges therin are "fatally premature and must be dismissed," according to the FCC's reasoning.
Let's count that as the third major instance of cowardly failure from the FCC in this whole net neutrality thing.
First it announced Nov of 2009 in its Notice of Proposed Rule Making (warning:PDF) that it is the entity in the federal government responsible for regulating the Internet, and that it intended to create rules to protect the rights of consumers and broadband access to them.
Then, in 2010, it ignored most of the thousands of pages of testimony filed by consumer-protection and civil rights groups and listened mainly to carriers while developing its rules.
Second it issued a set of rules that do nothing to limit the power of the carriers and, in fact, endorses their practice of throttling traffic moving across their networks based on whether or not the content competes with theirs, not strict technical reasons or consistent guidelines.
Third, when the carriers sued anyway, to try to chase the agency out of the Internet-regulatory game entirely, the FCC didn't stand up to defend itself or its right to regulate. It whined about the most procedural of procedural issues, probably in a whisper, or hastily scribbled note so lawyers for the big bad carriers couldn't hear.
"Your honor, the People maintain that the plaintiffs are being mean to us and you should call their mom and get them in trouble."