U.S. Court of Appeals Overturns Net Neutrality
A U.S. court has overturned portions of the Federal Communications Commission’s contentious net neutrality rules, saying the FCC does not have the authority to dictate to wireless carriers what they can charge to whom and when.
The decision was handed down today by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. The case was brought by Verizon, which claimed the FCC’s “decision to impose the rules was arbitrary and capricious,” the ruling says.
The idea of “net neutrality” is also called “open internet” because it argues that no government or company can regulate the flow of the Internet. Advocates say that if left without regulation, large service providers will give preferential treatment to larger companies that can pay more. Meanwhile, smaller tech companies without deep, corporate pockets, will not be able to compete for premium service.
Related: Understanding Net Neutrality and Anti-Government Regulation
Chairman of the FCC Tom Wheeler says that the ruling could stifle innovation and that he will do what he can to keep the Internet open and competitive.
"I am committed to maintaining our networks as engines for economic growth, test beds for innovative services and products, and channels for all forms of speech protected by the First Amendment,” Wheeler said after the decision was announced Tuesday. “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.”
Meanwhile, Craig Aaron, president and CEO of the net neutrality advocacy group Free Press also voiced dissatisfaction with the ruling, saying it allows phone and cable companies to "block and discriminate" against their customers' communications. “Now, just as Verizon promised it would in court, the biggest broadband providers will race to turn the open and vibrant Web into something that looks like cable TV. They’ll establish fast lanes for the few giant companies that can afford to pay exorbitant tolls and reserve the slow lanes for everyone else.”
Related: Privacy of Location-Based Services on FCC's Radar
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