US Federal Judges May Help ISPs Undermine Net Neutrality
Ashley Allen / 5 years ago
Federal judges in the US could force the Federal Communications Commission to decimate its own net neutrality ruling. Internet service providers have been fighting the FCC ever since the government body reclassified internet services under Title II of the Communications Act, according to the National Journal. At the behest of ISPs, three Federal judges at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals are currently putting that reclassification under the microscope, which may see the concept of a free and open internet sold out.
Lawyers working on behalf of ISPs argue that internet services should be classified as ‘information services’ like Google or Netflix, rather than ‘telecommunications services’ like telephones, due to the cost of storing and sending large quantities of data.
On Friday, Judge Stephen Williams asked lawyers from the FCC why companies should not be allowed to charge extra for internet “fast lanes?” asserting that, “If you get something special, you pay something special.”
The Appeals panel is also looking at what constitutes an internet network. For example, mobile internet for smartphones and tablets is distributed via mobile (cell) phone networks, while broadband operates through fibre or cable, so why should they be considered the same “network”?
“You never know with these guys,” media attorney Andrew Schwartzman, a supporter of net neutrality, told reporters. “They probed very, very aggressively both sides. My sense of it, for what it’s worth—and we’ll know in four months—is that they were satisfied with the commission’s explanations.”
Whatever the panel decides – ruling in favour of either the FCC or ISPs – it is expected that the losing side will take the case to the Supreme Court.