Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The attorneys general of 21 states filed a petition Tuesday to block the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is leading the multi-state lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Schneiderman said the FCC's decision to rescind net neutrality rules was illegal and allows Internet service providers to block certain content, charge more to access certain sites and slow down the service for content providers that don't pay more.
"An open Internet -- and the free exchange of ideas it allows -- is critical to our democratic process," Schneiderman said. "The repeal of net neutrality would turn Internet service providers into gatekeepers -- allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do and what we say online."
In addition to New York, other states that have joined the lawsuit include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the FCC's repeal of net neutrality also prevents states from being able to protect their consumers from illegal actions taken by Internet service providers.
"Allowing powerful special interest to act as the Internet's gatekeepers harms consumers, innovation and small businesses," Ferguson said in a statement. "We believe the FCC acted unlawfully when it gutted net neutrality, and I look forward to holding the FCC accountable to the rule of law."
Ferguson is involved in an ongoing lawsuit against Comcast on behalf of Washingtonians who said the cable and Internet giant enrolled thousands of people in services they didn't ask for.
As the FCC faces a lawsuit from several states, the agency may also have to worry about Senate Democrats. On Tuesday, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said the entire Democratic caucus is co-sponsoring legislation that will repeal the FCC's rollback of net neutrality rules.
"There is a tsunami of congressional and grassroots support to overturn the FCC's partisan and misguided decision on net neutrality," Markey said.