Big Net Neutrality Setback For The FCC: Court Rules It Doesn't Have Authority To Set Or Enforce Rules

A big win for Comcast and a big loss for the FCC in the “net neutrality” arena — the idea that ISPs must not interfere with customers’ Internet traffic.

A U.S. appeals court “struck down rules barring the cable carrier from blocking file-sharing on its Internet network,” MarketWatch’s Jeffry Bartash reports.

In a 3-0 vote, the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia basically ruled that the FCC does not have the authority to set or enforce these types of rules, Bartash writes.

This will obviously make other ISPs, including AT&T and Verizon, happy. And it will no doubt lead to more debate about the future of net neutrality, which has been one of FCC chairman Julius Genachowski’s big platforms since taking his position.

So what’s next? In a report, Stifel Nicolaus analysts Rebecca Arbogast and David Kaut say:

• “Today’s ruling is destabilizing as it could effectively free broadband providers from FCC regulation over broadband, including net neutrality, rules requiring transparency letting customers know what actual speeds they are receiving, the ability to prioritise emergency communications, consumer privacy protections (though these could presumably be imposed to a certain degree by the FTC).”

• “The FCC could also appeal the order.”

• “Bottom line, although today’s decision is an immediate victory for broadband providers, they may have won the battle only to face a larger war.”

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