US Fed­er­al Judges May Help ISPs Undermine Net Neutrality




/ 5 years ago

net neutrality

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.


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