Internet Association to join expected net neutrality lawsuit

A supporter of Net Neutrality, Lance Brown Eyes, protests the FCC's recent decision to repeal the program in Los Angeles, California, November 28, 2017. REUTERS/ Kyle Grillot

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Internet Association, a trade group representing companies such as Google parent Alphabet Inc GOOGL.O and Facebook Inc FB.O, said on Friday that it intends to join an expected lawsuit against a decision to roll back net neutrality rules.

One of the group's members, e-commerce site Etsy Inc ETSY.O, said that it would separately also join the legal effort. Several states including New York, and public interest advocacy groups have said they intend to sue to stop the mid-December ruling by the Federal Communications Commission.

The approval of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal in a 3-2 vote marked a victory for internet service providers such as AT&T Inc T.N, Comcast Corp CMCSA.O and Verizon Communications Inc VZ.N, handing them power over what content consumers can access.

Democrats, Hollywood and companies such as Google and Facebook had urged Pai, a Republican appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump, to keep the Obama-era rules barring service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain content.

“The final version of Chairman Pai’s rule, as expected, dismantles popular net neutrality protections for consumers. This rule defies the will of a bipartisan majority of Americans and fails to preserve a free and open internet,” the Internet Association said in a statement.

Etsy called the decision to overturn net neutrality rules “deeply disappointing.”

“Etsy is continuing to fight for a free and open Internet; that’s why we intend to challenge Chairman Pai’s order in the courts,” Althea Erickson, Etsy’s head of advocacy and impact, said in a statement.

The new rules give internet service providers sweeping powers to change how consumers access the internet but must have new transparency requirements that will require them to disclose any changes to consumers.

Internet Association members also include Airbnb, AMZN.O and several dozen online and social media companies.

Reporting by Chris Sanders and Diane Bartz; Editing by Susan Thomas