'Network Neutrality' Ruling Gives FCC a Chance to Revise Regulations
NEWS ANALYSIS: The Federal Communications Commission's network neutrality rules lose out on a narrow technical issue rather than on claims the FCC didn't have authority to regulate broadband carriers.The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia focused on narrow, technical grounds to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's rules requiring non-discriminatory, non-blocking access to the Internet. However, the court avoided the broader assertions by Verizon that the FCC does not have the authority to regulate broadband providers, saying that it was clear that the FCC does, in fact, have the authority. The problem, according to the court is that the FCC had applied common carrier rules to an entity that isn't a common carrier. "That said, even though the Commission has general authority to regulate in this arena, it may not impose requirements that contravene express statutory mandates," the three-judge appeals panel said in the introduction of its opinion. Initially, the court's finding was greeted by cries around Washington that an Internet apocalypse had just happened. Net neutrality is dead, the press releases cried. Immediate action is required today, said other equally distraught press releases. Headline writers echoed those frightening words.
But as is frequently the case in Washington, reality isn't in the press releases. Rather, it is in the complete opinion, which lays out the very limited grounds where the FCC is wrong in its approach. Notably, the appeals court's opinion rejects the vast majority of Verizon's arguments that claim the FCC has no right to regulate at all.