The U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 3-0 earlier today that the FCC does not have the authority to enforce internet neutrality.
The case arose out of a situation where the FCC attempted to require Comcast to feed BitTorrent through its service though Comcast claimed the feed slowed its service to customers.
The decision is good news for cable and wireless providers, including the big telecoms, who would be allowed to restrict content. Others like Microsoft, Skype, Amazon and Google have argued against such restrictions.
It is yet unknown how the decision impacts the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. Net neutrality has received support from both sides of the aisle in Congress, and the FCC is already trying to reclassify internet communications from Title I Communications to Title II Communications in order to give the FCC additional regulatory authority. Members of Congress are vowing to provide statutory support as needed to maintain FCC authority.
More on this story from The Hill.
UPDATE: This reaction from Sam Feder, former FCC general counsel :
“There are no great paths forward. The court decision is not broad enough to have a good shot at overturning it in the Supreme Court, and for the same reason, it is unlikely to prod Congress into enacting legislation. Reclassifying broadband under Title II — a path advocated by some public interest groups — might provide a more sound legal basis for moving forward, but the politics of that move are awful. The ISPs would fight tooth and nail to avoid reclassification, and the public interest groups are unlikely to be happy unless reclassification is accompanied by significant regulation. In the end, that move makes nobody happy. I think the best path forward is to try to articulate different grounds for exercising ancillary jurisdiction, a path the court left open, and then taking your chances in court. I give that path a 50-50 shot at success.”
Contributor, aka tidbits. Retired attorney in complex litigation, death penalty defense and constitutional law. Former Nat’l Board Chair: Alzheimer’s Association. Served on multiple political campaigns, including two for U.S. Senator Mark O. Hatfield (R-OR). Contributing author to three legal books and multiple legal publications.