Net Neutrality Loses In Federal Court: FCC Gets Wings Clipped

Federal Courts hand the FCC a loss and Comcast a win:

A federal appeals court struck down the FCC’s efforts to enforce its “net neutrality” principles, ruling Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission exceeded its authority when it issued a 2008 citation against Comcast Corp. for throttling Internet traffic from high-bandwidth file-sharing services.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the citation, ruling that Congress hadn’t given the FCC the power to regulate an Internet service provider’s network-management practices.

“The commission has failed to tie its assertion of ancillary authority over Comcast’s Internet service to any statutorily mandated responsibility,” the court said in a 36-page opinion.

The court’s decision could throw into question the FCC’s authority to impose open Internet rules.

Basically this means that a company can do business the way it wants to. What different internet providers have been worried about is having the “information spigot” turned off for them. That is, a user or provider who uses huge amounts of bandwidth could be denied, and that could kill business.

So companies like Google and other big providers wanted the courts to say that the FCC could control this and guarantee that everyone has as much bandwidth as they want.

But the court ruled that a company like Comcast has every right to decide what data it carries.

Now, this might sound scary, because what if they shut you off? Well. The idea is that there is enough competition in the marketplace that a company can get to the web via more than one portal.

My thought is that people will find leapfrog technologies or figure out ways to minimize data use in order for this to be no big deal. A ruling in favor of the FCC would freeze technology where it is right now.

So, for today, Net Neutrality is down for the count. Good.

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