The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the Federal Communications Commission (FCC’s) Open Internet (net neutrality) rules yesterday (14 June), effectively handing a defeat to telecoms operators trying to fend off tighter oversight of the consumer broadband sector. The ruling is likely to be considered a major victory for the Obama administration and companies such as Netflix and Google, and potentially paves the way for further pending regulatory steps that telecoms players have resisted thus far.
The lawsuit against the FCC was filed by a mix of broadband industry lobby groups and ISPs, and follows the regulator’s controversial February 2015 introduction of the 2015 Open Internet Order, in which it reclassified broadband as a telecoms service, subject to common carrier regulation under Title II of the Communications Act. Previously, the Court of Appeals had weighed in on Comcast Vs. FCC (2010) and Verizon Vs. FCC (2014).
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler commented: ‘Today’s ruling is a victory for consumers and innovators who deserve unfettered access to the entire web, and it ensures the internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth. After a decade of debate and legal battles, today’s ruling affirms the Commission’s ability to enforce the strongest possible internet protections – both on fixed and mobile networks – that will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future.’