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Appeals court strikes down key parts of the FCC's net neutrality rules (update: Verizon statement)

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
January 14, 2014
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If you were hoping that the FCC's net neutrality rules would survive the many legal challenges thrown in their path, think again. A Washington, DC appeals court has voided the anti-blocking and anti-discrimination requirements in the FCC's Open Internet Order, arguing that they go beyond the agency's mandates. While the court acknowledges the potential for bad behavior following its decision, it argues that services like Google Fiber will keep incumbent carriers honest. That's an odd argument given that many of these services have a tiny footprint at best -- in many cases, big carriers enjoy duopolies and monopolies across much of the US. The move potentially lets providers like Verizon (which first appealed the rules) either block competing internet services on their landline networks, or charge those companies extra for features like guaranteed delivery or higher performance. The FCC hasn't yet responded to the decision, but we can't imagine that it's happy. If it wants net neutrality, it may now have to classify internet providers as common carriers, like wired telephone lines -- a move that would likely face stiff opposition.

Update: Verizon has issued a statement arguing that it supports an open internet even with the decision in its favor. However, Big Red contradicts itself by claiming that the ruling gives customers more say over "how they access and experience the internet" -- we wouldn't count on that openness lasting forever.

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