The Obama administration scored a big win today with a court decision upholding the Net neutrality rules created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The rules require Internet service providers (ISPs) to be regulated the same way as utilities, which would prevent them from playing favorites with certain content providers or penalizing others.
A number of third parties weighed in on the decision in support of the FCC’s regulations with amici curiae (friends of the court) briefs, including the Writers Guild of America, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Consumer Union of the U,S,, the American Library Association, and Mozilla. Telecom and cable companies filed briefs opposing the regulations.
All Content Treated Equally
The two-to-one decision handed down by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit means that ISPs will be required to treat all content transmitted over their networks equally. Content providers had argued that the principal of Net neutrality was vital to the continued existence of the Internet as a place where new companies could thrive without being choked off from access by more powerful competitors.
In other cases, broadband providers often also act as content providers themselves, enabling them to limit end users’ access to competing services. An ISP such as Comcast, for example, could potentially limit subscribers’ access to the New York Times’ Web page in order to force them to use Comcast’s own news service.
ISPs, on the other hand, had argued that the regulations promulgated by the FCC adversely affected their businesses by preventing them from recouping the costs incurred by companies such as Netflix, which can be responsible for enormous amounts of data traffic, particularly during peak hours.
The FCC’s rule at the core of the disagreement, known as the 2015 Open Internet Order, reclassified broadband service from an information service to a telecommunications service, making the industry subject to the Communications Act. Broadband providers pushed back against the regulation, arguing that the FCC lacked the authority to make such a reclassification. They also alleged that some of the rules included in the order violated their First Amendment rights to free speech.
No Free Speech Issue for ISPs
David Tatel and Sri Srinivasan, the judges finding in favor of the FCC, ruled that the commission's order did not violate the companies’ free speech rights. “Telegraph and telephone networks similarly involve the transmission of speech,” the judges wrote in their majority opinion. “Yet the communicative intent of the individual speakers who use such transmission networks does not transform the networks themselves into speakers.”
The judges also agreed with the FCC’s argument that Net neutrality creates a virtuous cycle of investment and innovation in information technology and helps spur broadband deployment. Additionally, the two judges found that the government had successfully demonstrated that broadband service providers have the ability to act in ways that would inhibit further broadband growth and development if left to their own devices.
Posted: 2016-06-15 @ 12:31am PT
Broadband companies need to come with long term price policy so that their ROI would be viable to sustain in the business. Yes, internet is a necessity and everyone has the right to access it, irrespective of the the race or ethnicity, one belongs to. In-fact internet companies need to be monitored so that a cap could be kept on those sites that encourages paid-search traffic, that prevents micro-businesses from its organic growth. I have written a blog on the use of web applications that provides solution via the internet.