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No Surprise Here: 'Net Neutrality' Heads to Court

August 05, 2015





In a move that surprised virtually no one, the FCC’s (News - Alert) recent net neutrality ruling is now going to face the scrutiny of the courts.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has scheduled a December 4 oral-argument date for consideration of the FCC rules, which require equal treatment of Internet traffic, The Wall Street Journal reported. USTelecom (News - Alert), a trade group that represents broadband providers—along with other opponents of the rules—sued the FCC, saying the commission violated various laws, regulations and procedures when it passed the new rules in February.

That ruling decided to reclassify broadband providers as telecommunications services, a designation that has long applied to regular telephone service. The effort is aimed at preventing broadband providers from blocking or slowing certain Internet traffic and prioritizing other traffic.

Taking a closer look at the issue, online site IGN.com said that AT&T, Verizon (News - Alert) and others filed a petition arguing for an overturn of the ruling.

“The petition argues that under Title 47 of U.S. Code, Congress exempted broadband Internet access from the very common-carrier regulation under Title II of the Communications Act that the FCC claims give it the authority to enact net neutrality,” IGN said. “The fairly dense document argues that ISPs, and the services they provide, have no relation to ‘heavy-handed, public-utility-style regulation designed for 19th-century railroads and 1930s telephone monopolies,’ and broadband Internet services provide information services rather than telecommunication services.”

Under net neutrality, the FCC would have broad oversight over Internet service providers, including an "Internet Conduct Standard" which, the ISPs involved in the brief say, would give the FCC the power to "to make up more rules as it goes,” IGN reported.

The appeals court hasn’t disclosed which judges will hear the case, a decision that will come down about a month before arguments begin.

 
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