Net Neutrality | Court strikes down FCC actions

Network cable

Net Neutrality is the idea that all legal internet traffic should be treated equally. Image from Flickr.

Net Neutrality is the idea that all legal internet traffic should be treated equally. The concept of net neutrality seems simple enough, but a recent ruling by a Federal appeals court puts the FCC’s ability to protect net neutrality in question: Can the Federal government  protect net neutrality, or will internet service providers be able to determine which payday loans online web sites users can visit?

Net neutrality ruling strikes down FCC action

The net neutrality case that the Federal appeals court just ruled on is Comcast Corp. v. FCC, 08-1291. In 2008, the Federal Communications Commission sanctioned Comcast Corporation for deliberately slowing internet traffic. Many users, some trying to apply for payday loans no fax, complained to the FCC about the slowdown. The FCC claimed that by slowing internet speeds for high-volume users, Comcast was preventing access. Comcast sued the FCC with the argument that the FCC was stepping over the legal authority given it by congress. The Federal appeals court ruled in Comcast’s favor on April 6.

The legal framework of net neutrality

Currently, net neutrality does not have an enforcement framework in the United States. The Federal Communications Commission does have the legal authority to regulate telecommunications services, which the commission refers to as “Title II” services. However, broadband internet service is currently classified as a “Title I” information service. While President Obama and Congress have discussed creating a new legal framework to protect net neutrality, no specific legislation is currently under consideration.

Arguments against net neutrality

Currently, most large providers are warning the FCC that reclassifying broadband service as Title II would be a “very bad idea.” Threatening years of legal challenges, providers such as Verizon, Comcast and AT&T are speaking out very loudly against net neutrality protections. The basic argument of these service providers is that the government has no business regulating their network management. Each internet service provider is saying that net neutrality actions would illegally violate their right to manage their businesses as they see fit.

How can the FCC protect net neutrality?

The FCC, as well as the Federal government, puts quite a bit of stock in the concept of net neutrality. The National Broadband plan rests heavily on a neutral internet. At this point, the FCC has three options. First, it can classify broadband service as a Title II service. Second, it can ask Congress to present a legal framework for net neutrality. Finally, the FCC can appeal the net neutrality decision handed down today to the Supreme Court.

Sources:

Computer World
Wall Street Journal

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