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Court Ruling Removes Restrictions On Cable Companies, Threatens Net Neutrality

Submitted by on January 15, 2014 – 10:49 amNo Comment

A ruling on Tuesday struck down the popular concept of net neutrality, which states that providers must treat all data equally and cannot slow speeds or charge more for certain clients. In a lawsuit brought by Verizon, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled that the FCC has no authority to make such restrictions.

“This regulation essentially provides an economic preference to a politically powerful constituency, a constituency that, as is true of typical rent seekers, wishes protection against market forces,” wrote Judge Laurence Silberman of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. “The Commission does not have authority to grant such a favor.”

The decision did necessarily deny the concept of net neutrality, but found that the FCC could not apply the rule based on how it already classifies internet providers.

“Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers,” wrote another judge on the panel. “The Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such.”

But Andrea Peterson at the Washington Post highlighted another part of the decision, where the justices said that unhappy customers can just switch broadband providers. She points out that 15 million Americans, mostly in rural areas, still live without any broadband access, and even more have access to only one provider.

“This ruling stands up for consumers and providers alike by keeping the government’s hands off the Internet,” said Republican Reps. Fred Upton and Greg Walden, who both serve on the energy and commerce committee.

But former Democratic FCC Comissioner Michael Copps disagreed, saying, “Without prompt corrective action by the commission to reclassify broadband, this awful ruling will serve as a sorry memorial to the corporate abrogation of free speech.”

[via Bloomberg]

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