FCC, Net Neutrality Lose Out to Verizon in District Court Ruling
The FCC's classification of broadband providers as separate from carriers was key to the court's ruling in favor of Verizon.The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has released an 81-page judgment on the case of Verizon vs. the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), siding with Verizon. Verizon sued the FCC in 2011, challenging its Open Internet Order, which insisted that all Internet traffic must be treated equally—a practice also popularly referred to as net neutrality. "Our task as a reviewing court is not to assess the wisdom of the Open Internet Order regulations, but rather to determine whether the Commission has demonstrated that the regulations fall within the scope of its statutory grant of authority," the Court wrote in the Jan. 14 judgment. It continued: "The Commission has established that section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 vests it with affirmative authority to enact measures encouraging the deployment of broadband infrastructure. … Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such. Because the Commission has failed to establish that the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules do not impose per se common carrier obligations, we vacate those portions of the Open Internet Order." A Verizon Policy Blog post said no side got what it entirely wanted.
The court rejected Verizon's position that Congress doesn't give the FCC jurisdiction over broadband access and upheld the commission's disclosure rules. However, the court also decided the FCC can't "impose last century's common carriage requirements on the Internet and struck down rules that limited the ability of broadband providers to offer new and innovative services," wrote Randal Milch, general counsel and executive vice president of public policy, law and security at Verizon.