WASHINGTON, June 15, 2016 - A federal appeals court voted to uphold Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules for Internet providers in a victory for advocates of so-called “net neutrality” on Tuesday. But legal challenges are expected to continue and several sources expect the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will ultimately decide the fate of these regulations.
In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the FCC has the authority to reclassify Internet service providers (ISPs) as “common carriers,” which means the agency can more tightly regulate ISPs in much the same way it regulates telephone service providers.
As a result, the agency will now be able to enforce net neutrality rules that it passed last year, prohibiting companies like Comcast and Verizon from being able to block or speed up certain sites or types of content from companies who pay for so-called “Internet fast lanes.”
“Today’s ruling is a victory for consumers and innovators who deserve unfettered access to the entire web, and it ensures the internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a statement.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association expressed disappointment with the court’s decision and said it wants lawmakers to “renew their efforts to craft meaningful legislation that can end ongoing uncertainty, promote network investment and protect consumers.”
And NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association said it has “serious concerns about some of the specific ways in which the FCC has sought to expand and apply certain Title II regulations to broadband. “At the same time, the association has consistently stressed the need for common-sense rules of the road to govern how various entities interact in the broadband marketplace,” said Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield in a statement.
“We urge the commission to avoid regulatory over-reach in the decision’s wake and to focus instead on how best to adapt existing rules in a thoughtful, limited, clear-cut way as necessary specifically to promote certainty and serve core statutory principles such as universal service and consumer protection,” Bloomfield added.
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