Federal Court Scraps FCC ‘Net Neutrality’ Regulations

The U.S. Court of appeals ruled today that the net neutrality measures instituted by the Federal Communications Commission are invalid.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reinforced the FCC’s ability to regulate the internet, but they ruled against the Commission’s authority to impose requirements that “contravene express statutory mandates.”

Opponents of net neutrality claim broadband service providers have no plans to block content or degrade network performance, but at least one provider – Comcast – was already accused of intentionally slowing peer-to-peer communications before the net neutrality laws were put into place. The court’s ruling invalidates the “internet fairness” laws the FCC implemented in recent years.

The court’s opinion states:

Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the (1996) Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such.

And this is how you know the lawyers had a sense of humor: They used a cat video to explain the whole idea, simply.

To pull the whole picture together with a slightly oversimplified example: when an edge provider such as YouTube transmits some sort of content—say, a video of a cat—to an end user, that content is broken down into packets of information, which are carried by the edge provider’s local access provider to the backbone network, which transmits these packets to the end user’s local access provider, which, in turn, transmits the information to the end user, who then views and hopefully enjoys the cat.

The court documents explain supporters of net neutrality – or the FCC’s preferred term “Internet openness”- worry about the relationship between broadband providers and edge providers. They fear broadband providers may prevent end-user subscribers from accessing certain edge providers altogether, or might degrade the quality of their end-user subscribers’ access to certain edge providers, “either as a means of favoring their own competing content or services or to enable them to collect fees from certain edge providers.”

The Blaze reported on the FCC voting to implement net neutrality in 2010, with a 3-2 vote.

Verizon, the appellant for the case, issued a statement after court’s ruling.

“One thing is for sure: today’s decision will not change consumers’ ability to access and use the Internet as they do now… Verizon has been and remains committed to the open Internet that provides consumers with competitive choices and unblocked access to lawful websites and content when, where, and how they want.”

The ruling does leave room for interpretation on future government regulations on internet traffic, and the Commission plans to appeal the decision, according to a statement from FCC Chairman.

Former Congressman Cliff Stearns, who chaired the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee and led the charge against net neutrality, told The Blaze:

“The decision today is one of those instances that demonstrates that the current law should not be changed without further deliberation. It also appears that the District Court felt more things need to be considered.”

And since the court mentioned a cat video, it must be important to justice for all. Here’s one for your enjoyment: