Appeals Court Strikes Down FCC's Internet Broadband Rules

Verizon Communications has won its challenge to U.S. open-Internet regulations as an appeals court ruled against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), saying the agency's restrictions have no basis in federal law.

As reported by Bloomberg, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. sent the rules back to the FCC, which may now attempt to rewrite the regulations that bar companies from slowing or blocking some Internet traffic.

The FCC is trying to regulate Verizon and other companies that supply broadband Internet service under a statute that doesn't apply, according to Circuit Judge David Tatel.

"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," Tatel wrote.

The FCC rule required companies that provide businesses and consumers high-speed Internet service over wires to treat all traffic equally. With the regulation voided, companies such as Google and Amazon.com could face new charges for fast connections.

The ruling could set the stage for a contentious bid by the FCC to try again to write rules, this time relying on a part of the law written decades ago to regulate monopoly telephone service.

In a statement, FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn said that "We must ensure that consumers do not become casualties in our efforts to balance competing interests. Our actions should preserve consumer access to content of their choice, and our policies should advance competition, investment and innovation. The FCC's public interest obligation requires us to seek solutions that are guided by these principles. I look forward to working with Chairman Wheeler on next steps."

Content Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014
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