Ferguson announces plan to file lawsuit after FCC's net neutrality vote

FILE - Thousands of people demonstrated Dec. 7 across the country to save net neutrality. (KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday he plans to file a lawsuit to challenge the Federal Communication Commission's decision to scrap the Obama-era "net-neutrality" rules, according to a statement released by Ferguson's office.

"Yesterday I sent a letter to the FCC asking them to delay their vote gutting net neutrality. Unfortunately, they did not," Ferguson said in his statement. "Today, I am announcing my intention to file a legal challenge to the FCC's decision to roll back net neutrality, along with attorneys general across the country."

Ferguson said his office will be filing a petition for review in the coming days. He also stated he is proud to stand with Gov. Jay Inslee on stepping up as a state to protect consumers in light of the FCC's decision, according to the statement.

"Allowing internet service providers to discriminate based on content undermines a free and open internet," Ferguson said in his statement. "Today's actions will seriously harm consumers, innovation and small businesses."

In Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee says the internet has allowed the technology industry to blossom, and rolling back net neutrality could threaten our economy.

“We will have really, really brilliant people who can't build their businesses because they will be squeezed out by the large incumbent companies,” said Governor Inslee.

The Washington Technology Industry Association says ending net neutrality regulations could hurt all across the board.

In a statement released Thursday it said: "The FCC's decision is a foolish one and will have a profound effect on everyone from small startups to big companies to someone simply surfing the internet. Now there's much more uncertainty and the potential for internet service providers to charge consumers and companies more money for the same internet access."

John Higdon, a gaming expert, says most video games nowadays involve multiple players that rely on servers all across the country.

"With slow connections online, games become virtually unplayable," he said.

The impact goes far beyond the tech industry.

Laurence Idos works for a non-profit that partners with United Way.

“I think it's going to drown non-profits, their voices,” said Idos.

His biggest worry is access and if he'll have to pay for faster internet speeds.

“How are we going to get that information to the community?” asked Idos.

“I'm very concerned what the repeal will look like not only for political engagement but also the spread of free information that would help people come together," said Seattle Pacific University student and community activist Hannah Martin.

Hanson Hosein, Director of the Communication Leadership graduate program at University of Washington says the overall impact of ending net neutrality protections is still up in the air. But, the concerns are very real.

“You've got companies like Amazon, Netflix and Google, even Facebook and Amazon who say we don't want to be subject to broadband providers deciding if we should be seen or not seen based on if websites load faster,” said Hosein.

He's also concerned for consumers.

“If Netflix has to pay more for those pipes, the consumer will have to pay more because that cost will be past onto us,” said Hosein.

KOMO News reached out to various broadband providers Thursday for comment and only heard back from CenturyLink. The comany said it looks forward to working with the FCC to make sure internet traffic benefits everyone. Right now, it doesn’t know how the decision will affect its operations or customers.

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