Court strikes down FCC's 'net neutrality' rules

McClatchy InteractiveJanuary 14, 2014 

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KEN STEINHARDT — MCT

An appeals court that struck down the Federal Communications Commission's controversial 'net neutrality' rules on Monday did not come close to ending the debate.

Instead, FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler vowed to fight on, saying that "we will consider all available options, including those for appeal," while from the flip side FCC Commissioner Mike O'Rielly praised the court's decision as confirming that "the commission's authority to regulate is not boundless."

The split reactions followed a ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The spot of good news for the FCC, in the decision authored by Judge David Tatel, is the court's recognition that "the commission has general authority to regulate in this area." This concession is not trivial; it rejected an argument made by Verizon, and it earned praise from lawmakers including Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif.

"That said," Tatel added, the commission "may not impose requirements that contravene express statutory mandates."

A Democratic appointee to the court, Tatel specifically noted that "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."

Verizon, though it did not win on every key point, largely praised the decision.

"The court found that the FCC could not impose last century's common carriage requirements on the Internet, and struck down rules that limited the ability of broadband providers to offer new and innovative services to their customers," Verizon's Executive Vice President Randal Milch said in a statement.

 

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