FCC lawyers probably have more to fear from Verizon’s expected court challenge to the regulatory agency’s net neutrality rules. The phone company will argue that the FCC doesn’t have the legal authority to regulate Internet services. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how far Free Press, a scrappy consumer activist group, can go with this new suit charging that regulators acted arbitrarily when they imposed tougher open Internet rules on wired connections than on wireless ones. Basically, Free Press wants the rules for wired broadband to apply to everyone. Here’s the release:

BOSTON — Free Press filed today in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston a petition for review of the Federal Communications Commission’s December 2010 Open Internet order. The Federal Register published the new rules last week, opening the window for such lawsuits. Free Press, headquartered in Western Massachusetts, will challenge the arbitrary nature of rule provisions that provide less protection for mobile wireless Internet access than they do for wired connections. Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood made the following statement:

“When the FCC first proposed the Open Internet rules, they came with the understanding that there is only one Internet, no matter how people choose to reach it. The final rules provide some basic protections for consumers, but do not deliver on the promise to preserve openness for mobile Internet access. They fail to protect wireless users from discrimination, and they let mobile providers block innovative applications with impunity.

“Our challenge will show that there is no evidence in the record to justify this arbitrary distinction between wired and wireless Internet access. The disparity that the FCC’s rules create is unjust and unjustified. And it’s especially problematic because of the increasing popularity of wireless, along with its increasing importance for younger demographics and diverse populations who rely on mobile devices as their primary means for getting online.

“Free Press will fight in court to make these rules stronger, even as we work elsewhere to uphold the FCC’s crucial role in promoting openness and equality on the Internet.”

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