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Judge Strikes Down FCC's 'Net Neutrality' Policy

A U.S. District Court of Appeals judge struck down the FCC's open Internet policy in what could be a landmark moment in the Web's history.
Posted at 5:52 PM, Jan 14, 2014

A judge struck down the FCC’s open Internet policy Tuesday, signifying a gradual shift in how the Internet is paid for.

The policy, better known as “net neutrality,” forced Internet service providers to treat similar online content the same, fearing they would use bandwidth as a tool to prioritize websites or discriminate against competitors.

"The U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia found that the FCC lacked the authority to impose any discrimination rules because it failed to classify broadband internet as a 'carrier service'. It was based on a suit by Verizon.​" (Via CNBC)

There are two parties at opposite ends of the ruling: the online content producers who use lots of bandwidth, like Netflix.  Then, there are the Internet service providers, like Verizon and AT&T.  The ruling is a win for providers. The Wall Street Journal gives an example,

“Internet service providers are now free to experiment with new types of arrangements, such as charging content companies like Google or Netflix higher fees to deliver Internet traffic faster, more seamlessly or in greater quantity, or degrading the quality of certain online content unless its creators are willing to pay.” (Via The Wall Street Journal)

What does this mean for you? In a statement today, Verizon pointed out “consumers will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the Internet.”

Other media outlets report the move hopefully will encourage the Web’s leaders to continue investing in something that will benefit everyone: telecom infrastructures, like Google Fiber.  A Fox Business analyst agrees saying,

“This could be a good thing for consumers if some of these edge providers, content application providers are subsidizing consumer usage. That could keep consumer rates low and help spur investment in broadband infrastructure.” (Via Fox Business)

However, CNET reports the critics think the absence of an open internet will “stifle innovation.”  KNTV describes the possible effects on Silicon Valley,

“Many people feel net neutrality is important especially in Silicon Valley because one tiny company has the same access to the Internet as Google." (ViaKNTV)

Not to mention, President Obama’s legacy could take a hit.  The concept of net neutrality was part of Obama’s campaign platform in 2008.  It had been in effect since 2011.

Keep in mind, this fight is far from over. The FCC could file an appeal and try to re-label broadband so it falls under “telecommunications”, an area legally blanketed by net neutrality.