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U.S. Appeals Court Strikes Down Net Neutrality Rules

posted on 2014-01-14 23:45 EST

A U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected federal guidelines that stated that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must treat all Internet traffic equally on Tuesday. The decision lays the groundwork for broadband providers and carriers to charge content providers extra fees for faster Internet access to certain services or sites compared to others.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines previously disallowed such tactics under rules that dictated "net neutrality," and did not allow ISPs to charge consumers extra for faster access to some Internet content compared to others. The rules were passed in 2010. Verizon Communications Inc. challenged the FCC's rules. The court ruled that while the FCC has the authority to oversee broadband communications, it does not have a mandate to impose the anti-discrimination rules on broadband providers.

The largest ISPs promised not to introduce a tier-based charging system for its customers. President Obama commented on Tuesday that he would continue to work with the FCC, Congress, and the private sector "to preserve a free and open Internet."

"The President remains committed to an open Internet, where consumers are free to choose the websites they want to visit and the online services they want to use, and where online innovators are allowed to compete on a level playing field based on the quality of their products," the White House statement said.

This is the second time courts have ruled against net neutrality. The Federal Appeals Court ruled against it in 2010. The court decided that Internet service providers can block or slow websites, as well as charge video sites like YouTube and Hulu to deliver content to users. The decision came after Comcast said it had the right to slow its users' access to the file-sharing service BitTorrent.

Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said on Tuesday, "Unless Congress acts, we should stay our hand and refrain from any further attempt to micromanage how broadband providers run their networks." Democratic Congress members are urging the FCC to work on rewriting the rules.

Source: Reuters via Gizmodo, Slashdot


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