Federal Court Strikes Down Net Neutrality Rules, Sides with Big Telecom
A U.S. Appeals Court just invalidated the FCC's net neutrality rules that would've made it illegal for telecom companies to favor certain types of traffic over others. The court ruled that the commission lacked the authority to implement and enforce such rules which were embedded in a complicated legal framework.
The court describes its reasoning in the ruling:
Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such. Because the Commission has failed to establish that the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules do not impose per se common carrier obligations, we vacate those portions of the Open Internet Order.
In other words, the FCC didn't have the authority to impose its rules because it defined broadband internet as an information service rather than a common carrier service, like telephones.
This is bad news. The ruling basically opens the door for companies like Verizon and Time Warner to cut special deals with websites to serve up their content faster. It also opens up the possibility of paid access to specific sites. Imagine the worst case scenario, where you literally have to pay an extra fee to get access to the websites you like. It's possible! At least the latest federal court ruling on Verizon's appeal to the FCC states that telecom companies have to tell subscribers which sites they're favoring.
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