Net Neutrality Struck Down

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down most of the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order on Tuesday, rejecting the FCC’s power to impose and enforce network neutrality rules on Internet service providers (ISPs).

Network neutrality is a principle that requires ISPs to treat all (legal) Internet traffic the same way. It requires that ISPs do not block the delivery of data packets and or give certain data packets priority.

AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have long wanted to set up a tiered system for carriage costs. Tuesday’s court decision makes that scenario much more likely.

Net neutrality interest groups, including SaveTheInternet.com say companies like Verizon can now block or slow down any website, application or service they like. And they’ll be able to create tiered pricing structures with fast lanes for those who can afford the tolls — and slow lanes for everyone else. News and information services – like NBC/Comcast – may get priority treatment.

In 2005, the FCC issued a Broadband Policy Statement which lists four principles of open Internet, “To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to:”

  • Access the lawful Internet content of their choice
  • Run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement
  • Connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network
  • Competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers

The FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order, classified ISPs as information services instead of telecommunications services, exempting them from common carrier rules. Verizon challenged the order and got a big victory this week by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently stated that the FCC must be able to protect broadband users and preserve the Internet’s fundamental open architecture. The FCC said today it’s considering “all available options,” including an appeal.

The FCC’s next move is yet to be determined. What Happens Next? Re/code has a Q&A for the Rest of Us.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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