Appeals court strikes down part of FCC's net neutrality rules on ISPs

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a ruling today that strikes down many of the Federal Communication Commission's rules concerning net neutrality regulations on ISPs, which went into effect over two years ago. The decision could lead to Internet providers offering preferential treatment in terms of faster traffic to certain sites, or even the right to block traffic to some websites.

The three judge panel split 2-1 on today's decision, which said that the FCC overstepped its bounds when it tried to regulate the activities of ISPs.  The regulator did not classify those businesses as "common carriers", unlike how they label phone companies. In their decision today, the appeals court stated, "Because the Commission has failed to establish that the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules do not impose per se common carrier obligations, we vacate those portions of the Open Internet Order."

Today's court ruling did confirm that ISPs must still tell its customers if it provides preferential treatment to certain data. In other words, if it gives better access to Netflix, it has to reveal that fact to subscribers up front.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement today, "We will consider all available options, including those for appeal, to ensure that these networks on which the Internet depends continue to provide a free and open platform for innovation and expression, and operate in the interest of all Americans."

Net Neutrality image via Shutterstock

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Considering businesses are trying to push a bill through congress that allows them to overturn laws that threaten their profits, this isn't surprising.

The US government is so beyond corrupt. Why hasn't there been an uprising yet?

Soon websites and media outlets that are critical of companies or host bad reviews of ISP will be 404. Then news sites will ally with ISPs and cut off independent media and then you will all be screwed.

the next step is for a law to be passed that gives the FCC ability to regulate this, or the FCC can do it themselves by reclassifying ISPs as common carriers.

a common carrier approach says that the ISPs are just one part of a network, to which we as the people have the right to access without interference from the carrier. in essense, the ISPs are just providing you with access to the information service, and they shouldn't have any say really what you do with it...

I honestly do not understand why the FCC has not so far chosen to classify the Internet as a central service, and thus designated the ISPs as common carriers which merely bring you the regulated service or information. I know that everyone has in their mind what the Internet is to them, basically an open network of computers sending information to and fro, and that is how it should stay, without the ISP being able to interfere on a selective basis with this. As it stands now, the way the internet architecture works, if an ISP wants to sell special service to a provider, they can already do that through peer agreements and installing equipment on the local network. It does not require special packet prioritization and ability to block content from other providers/computer systems/networks..

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_carrier

I'm 100% for this, internet service is practically a basic utility on par with or more important that phone service. It's much more practical to get things like government forms and sometimes it's the only way to get information or submit feedback.

The three judge panel split 2-1 on today's decision, which said that the FCC overstepped its bounds when it tried to regulate the activities of ISPs.

Bull-****ing-****. That is the job of the FCC, it's their job to make sure that business interests don't come over "freedom" on the internet and on phones.

It's because of **** like this that we have cable/ISP and cell phone monopolies around the US. And now (in washington anyways) It's going to get worse.

I only have 1 ISP where I live and that's Comcast, and I absolutely hate them. **** customer service and outrageous prices. I pay $190 a month for HDTV (no premium channels), phone and 15mbps internet.

Edited by -Razorfold, Jan 14 2014, 7:49pm :

This will end up being "bitter sweet" for the ISPs. They have probably won the battle only to lose the war.

What this will undoubtedly trigger is an expansion of the FCC mandate by Congress to specifically address the Internet. Which will end up squeezing ISPs more than the FCC could in the past.

I doubt Google, Netflix, Microsoft, et. al. will take this ruling lying down. They will be lobbying Congress to get this back to where we expect it to be. As Google doesn't want to be forced to pay billions to reach its customers twice. Especially since the companies can, and will, adjust the rates like crazy. Essentially, Comcast would try to recoup all their cable losses from Netflix "wire fees".

But what about from the customer point of view?

Comcast can now go "Hey do you want to watch Netflix in HD? Pay $5 extra a month for it!"

I keep telling people that it's the FCC's fault that we have such horrible prices and speeds - unless that was Congress - maybe someone could clear that up. Who was it that stated that cable lines can't be treated the same as landlines?

-Razorfold said,
But what about from the customer point of view?

Comcast can now go "Hey do you want to watch Netflix in HD? Pay $5 extra a month for it!"

Yeah that is my point. It would be a major problem for these companies as they'll end up paying twice. They'll be forced to pay Comcast (or others) large sums to access their customers and to discount customers to cover the possible fees coming in from crap like you mentioned.

ISPs should be limited to charging you for the line and that is it. Just like how the phone company can't charge me different rates for calling my Mom or my Brother (excluding long distance for sake of discussion).

Jaybonaut said,
I keep telling people that it's the FCC's fault that we have such horrible prices and speeds - unless that was Congress - maybe someone could clear that up. Who was it that stated that cable lines can't be treated the same as landlines?

The low average speed and high cost of the internet in the US is mostly up to greedy ISPs, as any attempt made by the FCC to mandate any sort of...well...anything related to the internet is met with crap like this.

Yeah but that's because of a ruling that didn't treat cable lines like phone land lines are - and I don't know if that was the FCC's fault or Congress or what. Can someone clear this up?

Basically from my limited understanding I heard that companies are ordered to work together when it comes to landlines which is why there is so much competition, and the opposite is true to cable.

LogicalApex said,
I doubt Google, Netflix, Microsoft, et. al. will take this ruling lying down. They will be lobbying Congress to get this back to where we expect it to be. As Google doesn't want to be forced to pay billions to reach its customers twice. Especially since the companies can, and will, adjust the rates like crazy. Essentially, Comcast would try to recoup all their cable losses from Netflix "wire fees".

Maybe not Google.

Google and Verizon already teamed up once to customize net neutrality to their liking.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-po...izon-we-do-loopholes-right/

Jaybonaut said,
I keep telling people that it's the FCC's fault that we have such horrible prices and speeds - unless that was Congress - maybe someone could clear that up. Who was it that stated that cable lines can't be treated the same as landlines?

Most likely Congress. It's also why the phone company gets to act like a cable company now (and cannot have custom ISP from who provides the pipe) when it comes to Internet access (unless you're still unfortunate to be on archaic DSL technology)

Not a great attitude...

'Here we go. Just let it happen. It'll be over soon,' - Torin Rettig, Killer Instinct producer

It ain't over yet. The Court of Appeals is simply hawing to the commercial interests in DC. They're basically saying that major Internet Providers who were once major Cable Providers (e.g. Time Warner Cable, Comcast) can re-apply their business model onto digital content access as they once did on television content access.