Court Strikes Big Blow to Net Neutrality

Says ISPs can discriminate against traffic
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 14, 2014 11:56 AM CST
A man checks his cell phone during a smoke break outside the Verizon headquarters in lower Manhattan, Thursday, June 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

(Newser) – A federal court has rejected FCC Open Internet regulations to ensure Internet service providers can’t discriminate when it comes to web traffic. In Verizon v. FCC, the Washington, DC, court found that ISPs can legally prioritize or block some traffic, the Washington Post reports. The court did, however, rule that providers have to tell users when they’re doing so, the Verge notes. ISPs, according to the court, aren’t "common carriers" like older telecom firms—so they're not subject to rules against prioritizing information.

"Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers," law "expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such," judge David Tatel wrote in the court opinion. The FCC "made a grave mistake when it failed to ground its Open Internet rules on solid legal footing," says a net neutrality activist. "Internet users will pay dearly for the previous chairman's lack of political will." The commission says it will consider an appeal. In the meantime, Ars Technica sees net neutrality as "half-dead." (Read more net neutrality stories.)

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