Washington - Jan 14, 2014 - The U.S. Court of Appeals sent the FCC's rules governing net neutrality back to the Commission, saying that the Commission in fact does not have the authority to prevent broadband service providers from slowing or blocking Internet traffic. U.S. Circuit judge David Tatel said that while FCC has the authority to regulate Verizon and other broadband service providers, it chose the "wrong legal framework" for its net-neutrality regulations, according to Bloomberg.
"Given that the commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the commission from nonetheless regulating them as such," Tatel wrote.
Michael Copps, a former Democrat FCC commissioner who voted in favor of the now-rejected rules, said the Commission must put broadband service under the common carrier legal framework, which explicitly restricts discrimination on the basis of charges or services.
"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," Copps said in an e-mailed statement from Common Cause, for which he is an adviser.
Proponents of the current net-neutrality laws say the rules the Appeals Court sent back to the Commission today are needed so that Web-based companies and content providers all play on a level field. They're concerned that the lack of net-neutrality rules will let ISPs favor established companies in terms of last-mile access to Internet users; in other words, companies that are successful will be able to pay for fast-lane access to consumers, while start-ups will be stuck in the slow lane.