FCC faces setback in net neutrality case

January 14, 2014
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In a US Appeals Court, the FCC lost their case regardning net neutrality. The court has essentially deemed that all ISP’s are not created equally, and shouldn’t be treated that way, either. It’s a poignant step backwards in the FCC’s efforts to have the web on common ground, but probably not the end of the journey.


The court essentially deemed that ISPs are not like older telecommunications providers, which are classified as “common carriers”. Via the ruling, ISPs don’t have to service information equally, and can instead push certain information to you faster, or disable it entirely. The FCC’s Net Neutrality rules were aimed at having all providers treat all information equally. Sadly, at least for now, that isn’t going to be the case.

The ruling was in the case of Verizon v. FCC, which was challenging rules put in place in 2010. That case essentially held the aforementioned criteria, save for the fact that an ISP would have to notify you when they were pushing information faster, or disabling it. To our mind, the clearest example could be found with AT&T’s new sponsored data program, in which certain information is free of charge to you. With this ruling, that nfo could also be fed to you faster, due to AT&T’s ability to choose which data is pushed where — and how fast, or slow.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler responded to the ruling by saying “I am committed to maintaining our networks as engines for economic growth, test beds for innovative services and products, and channels for all forms of speech protected by the First Amendment.” He went on to say they’ll consider an appeal, further pursuing their vision of an open Internet. With so many nuances and wrinkles to both sides of the argument, it’s hard to say if there is a right choice. An even playing field, however, is the best place to start, and that’s what the FCC is really trying to accomplish.

VIA: Reuters


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  • Red Colored Glasses

    If an ISP builds out their own network, (exception is the spectrum purchase by Verizon), they have to right to do with it what they want, as long as they are not breaking the law. “Net Neutrality” is just code for government control. The reason the internet has flourished is not due to government but because government has not ben able to regulate it, and thus leaving it up to the free market to build it out, unfettered by government fiat.

    • SlenderSniper

      So you’re saying that the Networks (if they have built out their networks) can give the slowest speeds at the highest cost, because it’s their network and they can do whatever they want with it, and that that’s ok? Because that’s what it means.

    • Andy_in_Indy

      The spectrum purchase is not an exception to this. In effect, the court has stated that the law as written does not give the FCC authority to regulate Internet Service Provider’s choices of which hardware or software it allows on their network. In essence, the FCC exceeded its authority by saying they could not limit access to certain programs or hardware. This is not likely to change Verizon’s policies much because they have been saying something similar to everyone who has used the spectrum purchase to try to get them to unlock bootloaders, allow tethering, etc.

    • phor11

      Public funding is rampant in Telecom projects though.

      I don’t know if an ISP that built it’s own network without any public subsidies/loans/funding even exists.

    • Code77

      You are right in saying that the free market has created the internet but don’t you see that this is what will end the free market of the internet as we know it? Say you work for a small company that depends on visits to your website for its revenues, well now you will have to pay at&t, comcast or whoever a large fee to be able to allow people to continue to visit your website at normal speeds or maybe even to visit it at all and if at&t is already in bed with your competitor forget it, none of your customers will be able to use your website again. This will destroy small internet businesses and limit consumer’s freedom. It will be a chokehold on the market. Saying ISPs have the right do what they want with the internet is like saying Ford as the right to do what they want with a farmer’s market because they provided the means for which to get you there. ISP’s only provide the means to get you to the internet, the internet is and always should be an open market, they don’t own it and should not be allowed to mess with it. This is the very definition of a monopoly. A market only remains free when there are regulations there to keep it that way.