U.S. federal court strikes down FCC’s so-called ‘net-neutrality’ regulations

“A federal appeals court in Washington on Tuesday struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s rules for Net neutrality,” Marguerite Reardon reports for CNET. “The case, which Verizon filed against the FCC after it imposed these Open Internet rules in 2011, puts to rest, for at least the time being, a very controversial topic that has been debated in Washington, D.C., for nearly a decade. In plain English, the court rejected Verizon’s argument that the FCC had overstepped its authority to regulate broadband access, instead acknowledging that the FCC has general authority to impose regulations on broadband and wireless service providers. But because the services these providers offer are classified differently from traditional telecommunication services, the justices reasoned in their decision that they are not subject to the same statutes, which guide the agency in forming its regulatory policies.”

“Early in the last decade, there was confusion about how broadband should be regulated. Should it be a telecommunications service subject to ‘common carrier’ regulation. Or should it be classified as an information service, which would not have the same requirements,” Reardon reports. “In 2005, the US Supreme Court ruled in the Brand X case that broadband services should not be classified as telecommunications services. Because broadband is not a telecommunications service, broadband providers’ infrastructure is not considered a public right of way and should not be regulated under the common carrier concept. Justices in the federal appeals court reasoned that because broadband providers are not required to adhere to common carrier rules, the FCC has no authority to impose rules that require them to not discriminate or block traffic.”

“Network operators, such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, have argued that imposing such rules on their networks makes it difficult for them to manage congestion on their networks. It also makes it difficult to develop new business models and revenue streams. They agree that it’s unfair to block traffic, but they argue the FCC should deal with such cases individually. They also believe that the free market and competition will ensure that broadband providers do not prevent consumers from accessing any Internet content,” Reardon reports. “The two Republican FCC commissioners believe it’s time to put to rest FCC rule-making to ensure openness on the Internet. ‘For the second time in four years, the D.C. Circuit has ruled that the FCC exceeded its authority in attempting to regulate the Internet,’ Republican commissioner Ajit Pai said in a statement. ‘It is time for the commission to take no for an answer. Unless Congress acts, we should stay our hand and refrain from any further attempt to micromanage how broadband providers run their networks. We should focus on removing regulatory barriers to broadband deployment, not imposing unnecessary rules that chill infrastructure investment.'”

Read more in the full article here.

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Verizon’s ‘Net Neutrality’ battle with U.S. FCC not about free speech – September 9, 2013
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FCC takes steps toward implementing ‘Net Neutrality’ rules – July 1, 2011
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  1. Thank god the far right and the laissez-faire capitalists won this round. Now I can gladly get my bandwidth throttled becasue I didn’t suck the butt of Warner Cable or Comcast.

    God bless the US, where internet traffic is not considered common carrier service and can be bent to fit the whims of whomever.

    1. So now the internet is open, and unregulated. It’s just that the only access points are controlled by a handful of large corporations who will now decide what you can and cannot access. Yes, beware unintended consequences.

      It’s now legal for Comcast to block your access to iTunes, Amazon, or Netflix. It’s now legal for Verizon to block VoIP phone calls. Wonderful. Welcome to internet ownership by the modern robber barons.

      1. “So now the internet is open, and unregulated.”

        Not exactly, but it’s right back to where it was a decade ago.

        The courts told Verizon, you don’t have a dog or breed in this fight to shut them down and give the government time to regroup.

        Then they looked at the FCC and said, rewrite these regs when you can accommodate more breeds.

        IOW, the scope of the FCC regs wasn’t inclusive enough.

        When you factor in all of the players involved things get complicated and obviously the courts don’t believe the FCC gave enough thought to the matter.

        I couldn’t have said it any better than Thelonious, but the fact is, there never will be Net Neutrality or a homogenous internet, like one giant ocean of stuff. There will always be Gatekeepers to things of value.

        Gatekeepers and patent trolls have visionaries too.

    2. Conservatives have this wrong. They see net neutrality as regulation. It is not. It is regulation in the same way freedom of speech is regulation. Net neutrality prevents corporations from deciding who the winners and losers are on the Internet.

      Net Neutrality is a simple idea and it is very important for preserving the Internet as we know it. Simply put, net neutrality says that ISPs will not interfere with the traffic on the Internet in any way that favors certain products and services over others.

      In other words, all data packets are equal on the Internet. If I want to create a fledgling social media website, my little site will be permitted to move data in and out as fast as FaceBook. If, however, ISPs do a deal with FaceBook to prioritize their traffic, I won’t be able to compete. I cannot pay the same amount of money as FaceBook.

      The Internet has existed and flourished with what amounts to voluntary net neutrality for some time now. Unfortunately ISPs like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner are looking at ways to control and distribute bandwidth to maximize profit while simultaneously diminishing the quality of service to consumers and defeating the entrepreneurial nature of the Internet.

      Think of it like “payola.” Before it was illegal, payola allowed record companies to pay radio stations, to play their records more. An artist who couldn’t afford the payola wouldn’t get as much airtime. Without net neutrality the same thing will likely happen to the Internet. It’s already happening.

      The free market does not work with the major Internet Services providers because there IS NO FREE MARKET. We don’t get choices and because we don’t get choices they have no vested interest in creating better service for users. The only innovation will be in innovative ways to charge for the same thing over and over.

      Without net neutrality, the services providers have basically cartel control over bandwidth. They’re an oligarchy like OPEC.

      I’ve got pretty much one choice in the area of Los Angeles I live in and that’s Time Warner, though it looks like they’re going to be bought by Charter. If I’m working on Sunday, and I likely will be, what happens when my bandwidth is downgraded to provide more for people watching the SuperBowl?

      The Internet is a spectacularly successful example of libertarian ideas, especially spontaneous order. Order WITHOUT regulation. The one regulation that Net Neutrality specifies is to leave end to end workings of the Internet alone.

      Anti-net neutrality people will argue this will inhibit innovation. In fact it’s just the opposite. Net Neutrality prevents ISPs from standing in the way of innovation.

      1. Apropos what you said about net neutrality (I’m for it), AT&T is thinking of bringing in a scheme whereby website owners pay AT&T for the traffic that its customers visit as a way to encourage more page views which in turn will lead to higher advertising revenues.

        The way it works is this. Say you subscribe to AT&T’s $30 data plan that caps your Internet usage at 300MB per month (for argument’s sake). You’ll be charged overages if you exceed that limit. But if you visit YouTube, the amount of bandwidth you consume won’t count towards your usage limits because YouTube will pay AT&T for you to visit their site.

        It’s this kind of discrimination on the Internet that could potentially hobble lesser capitalised website owners.

      2. As one of those “laisse-faire capitalists” (but not a far-righter) decried by 1st poster Terry, I have to agree. You nailed it exactly.

        I also live in an area where there is essentially only one internet service provider. A situate which is unlikely to change anytime in the next decade or so.

      3. The problem is not Net Neutrality (we are all for that, or should be). The problem is the so-called “Net Neutrality” that the FCC is trying to push. Do not criticize “Conservatives” unless you fully understand that to which we are objecting.

        For example, why do the FCC’s rules for the most part not apply to wireless carriers? Why exempt wireless broadband? Is the Net not worthy of being “neutral” when accessed via a carrier, as opposed to a cable modem? The FCC rules are arbitrary and overreaching. That is why smart “Conservatives” oppose the FCC’s so-called “Net Neutrality” rules.

        Also, unintended consequences are hidden. By definition, you cannot see the problems until they arise. But arise they will. They always do.

        1. Your writing will improve dramatically when you become a member of MDN, or more importantly, when you write using the same name no matter where you are on the internet.

          Try it. You’ll develop a more cohesive writing style when you can be yourself no matter where you go.

          Everywhere I go, there I am! has a nice feel to it.

    3. Have you ever been relevant? And why do you keep changing your name?

      You keep moving the line in the sand, huh? Because one day you know you’ll be right.

      But the sad fact is, you won’t be right for America when it’s finally your turn at the wheel.

      I see something resembling ice cubes in your future.

    4. No, net neutrality protects your rights to an open Internet just as well as mine. I can’t see where Obamacare has anything to do with this discussion. FWIW, Obamacare lowered my monthly insurance premium by $47.

  2. We already see one commenter blame Obama, but the simple fact is that our “representatives” only represent the wealthy campaign donors who pay to get them elected. Comcast and the other giant providers pay politicians to give them favorable laws where they get monopoly like control of the markets. It’s not a free market at all, but as long as they have their agents in the corporate media call it that then the people will go along with it.

    fascism |ˈfa sh ˌizəm| (also Fascism)
    noun. An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
    • (in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.

    1. Obama at work: “World economic freedom has reached record levels, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, released Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. But after seven straight years of decline, the U.S. has dropped out of the top 10 most economically free countries.”


    1. Odd comment. You seem to be very political. This is not a political issue. This is an issue about whether the Internet should remain open and unfettered. I would guess by your “Libertarian” leanings that you would want this to be true.

    2. I’m always amazed that the self-appointed defenders of freedom and liberty are the same people who vote for the candidates who give exactly what the wealthiest 1% want. You would think that it would be obvious to botvinnik and First 2014 that everything they agree with just-so-happens to be what the biggest corporations want… but no. That insight is lost on them.

        1. Speaking as someone who stuck with Apple during the bad days of Skully and Ameilo, Apple is very often the exception to the rule. There was a time when the WSJ hated Apple. Only by going against the current did Steve Jobs pull off the most amazing turnaround in history did Apple survive. Apple deserves its merits and I see no hypocrisy in supporting them.

          However, that is not a permanent position. Apple can chap me off and if they do I can leave the platform.

      1. 3 ISPs: one owns the cable, one owns the DSL phone lines and the third owns broadcast wifi. If you can only get cable internet in your neighborhood, then yes it is a monopoly. And if you’re lucky enough to choose from all three you may still be stuck with one provider because of unreliable service or bandwidth constraints.

        If you are lucky enough to be able to choose from 3 internet providers going through cable then it would not be a monopoly, but more often than not you are boxed in to take the only option available.

  3. “They also believe that the free market and competition will ensure that broadband providers do not prevent consumers from accessing any Internet content,”

    They almost certainly believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause as well.

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