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Appeals Court Voices Concern About FCC Rule

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The seal of the Federal Communications Commission.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has indicated its deep concerns regarding the legality of FCC rules requiring all Internet traffic to receive equal treatment.

Credit: Federal Communications Commission

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently signaled that it has deep concerns about the legality of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) 2011 rules requiring equal treatment for all traffic on the Internet.

A three-judge panel expressed concerns about an antidiscrimination provision in the FCC's rules that prohibits broadband providers from charging content companies for faster, more seamless access to consumers. The judges indicated that the provision illegally regulated Internet providers as "common carriers," a term referring to rules that require phone companies to provide equal access to their networks. They also noted that content companies currently are getting service for free.

The FCC's antidiscrimination rule also may run opposed to the fact that Internet providers cannot be regulated as common carriers, according to Judge David Tatel. However, the judges did leave open the possibility that the FCC can prevent Internet providers from blocking Internet traffic for websites that refuse to pay for transmissions.

Judges Tatel and Judith Rogers also were skeptical of Verizon's argument that the FCC lacked the jurisdiction to regulate the Internet. They said the FCC could claim authority under a section of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which says the FCC "shall encourage" the deployment of broadband through regulations that spur investments in infrastructure.

From The Wall Street Journal
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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