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Groups urge court to reject net neutrality challenge

Almost half a dozen advocacy groups waded into Verizon's lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission's network neutrality rules Tuesday, seeking to protect regulations that many of the groups had criticized for not going far enough.

Free Press, Media Access Project, Media Mobilizing Project, Public Knowledge and others all filed motions in the case to protect their ability to challenge any appeals.

The groups argue that the lawsuit, brought by Verizon and later joined by MetroPCS, was improperly filed and poses a threat to the FCC's ability to protect an open Internet.

"We hope the D.C. Circuit recognizes that the companies' suits are brought improperly and dismisses them, but we're filing today to preserve our rights to challenge the appeals if they're not dismissed outright," Free Press Policy Counsel Aparna Sridhar said in a statement. "We don't believe the FCC's order goes far enough to protect free speech online, but Verizon's and MetroPCS's efforts to ensure that the FCC has no role in protecting Internet users in the broadband marketplace are self-serving and dangerous."

In a statement at the time Verizon filed its lawsuit, Verizon Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Michael Glover said, "We are deeply concerned by the FCC's as,sertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the Internet itself."

But Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior vice president and policy director of Media Access Project, called Verizon's challenge a "sideshow."

"Verizon adopted a bizarre legal theory to obtain a tactical legal advantage," he said. "We are confident that the D.C. Circuit will dismiss this appeal in short order."

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