FCC, Net Neutrality Lose Out to Verizon in District Court Ruling

 
 
By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2014-01-14 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, suggested the fight wasn't over yet. 

"I am committed to maintaining our networks as engines for economic growth, test beds for innovative services and products, and channels for all forms of speech protected by the First Amendment," Wheeler said in a statement.

"We will consider all available options, including those for appeal, to ensure that these networks on which the Internet depends continue to provide a free and open platform for innovation and expression, and operate in the interest of all Americans," Wheeler concluded.

Commissioner Ajit Pai announced that he was resigned to accept the court's decision.

"For the second time in four years, the D.C. Circuit has ruled that the FCC exceeded its authority in attempting to regulate the Internet. It is time for the Commission to take no for an answer," Pai said in a statement.

"Unless Congress acts, we should stay our hand and refrain from any further attempt to micromanage how broadband providers run their networks," he continued. "We should focus on removing regulatory barriers to broadband deployment, not imposing unnecessary rules that chill infrastructure investment."

The net neutrality argument recently re-entered the popular dialogue with AT&T's Jan. 6 introduction of Sponsored Data, an offer that lets businesses pay for consumers' data usage in specified instances. Public Knowledge, the Free Press and other groups were quick to call the offer a violation of net neutrality.

Matt Wood, policy director of the Free Press, called Sponsored Data "discriminatory" and "not how the Internet is supposed to work."

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a nonprofit organization said to focus on "expanding liberty" and "strengthening free enterprise" hosted a discussion Jan. 13, in anticipation of the court's response, during which its panelists largely defended Sponsored Data and suggested that it was in line with many other industry offers.

"There haven't been too many good days for free marketeers over the past five years, but today was one of them," columnist James Pethokoukis wrote on the AEI site Jan. 14.

Pethokoukis added that the ruling "will help enable the global computer network's continued evolution free of government meddling."

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