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.