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Court Strikes Down FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules, Agency May Appeal (GigaOM)
An appeals court in Washington on Tuesday ruled that the FCC’s “net neutrality” rules, which prevent companies like Verizon from favoring some types of Internet traffic over others, are invalid. The 81-page ruling, which was decided by a 2-1 vote with one judge dissenting in part, has big implications for content providers, consumers and the future of the Internet. Bloomberg U.S. Circuit Judge David Tatel, writing for a three-judge panel, said that while the FCC has the power to regulate Verizon and other broadband companies, it chose the wrong legal framework for its open-Internet regulations. “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. NYT Internet service providers are free to make deals with services like Netflix or Amazon, allowing those companies to pay to stream their products to online viewers through a faster, express lane on the Web, the judges ruled. Federal regulators had tried to prevent those deals, saying they would give large, rich companies an unfair edge in reaching consumers. But since the Internet is not considered a utility under federal law, the court said, it is not subject to regulations banning the arrangements. BuzzFeed For years, the net neutrality nightmare scenario was as follows: Carriers, such as Comcast, could charge different amounts for access to different tiers of the Internet. The basic tier might include email and basic browsing; the next could include Facebook and Twitter; the final tier could include Netflix, YouTube or Spotify. These tiers would be divided not by bandwidth or speed requirements, but by content type. The Internet would become a club with various VIP sections, arbitrarily laid out to benefit providers. Wired / Threat Level If the decision stands, broadband providers are likely to implement pay-to-play plans like the one AT&T announced last week — plans that many said violated, at a minimum, the spirit of net neutrality.