Court upholds FCC net neutrality repeal, but there's still hope

Net Neutrality

Internet Regulation, Buh-Bye

The Trump administration can not preempt a California law barring internet service providers from slowing service to certain websites, a federal court ruled Tuesday morning.

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld the FCC's rollback of net neutrality rules enacted under the Obama administration.

The big ISPs so far have refrained from anti-competitive practices since the repeal took effect in 2018.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said the decision was a "disappointing blow to the promise of a free and open internet" but she said "California's leadership in enacting the strongest net neutrality protections in the country is a model that will ensure that the internet remains an engine of innovation, job creation and free speech for all Americans".

California, for example, has already passed its own net neutrality law but that's still caught up in a court fight with the Justice Department. He added: "A free and open Internet is what we have today and what we'll continue to have moving forward".

"Over time, what you're going to see is the internet becoming more and more like cable TV", Greer said, "where the only opinions that you hear, the only content that you can see, is stuff that's backed by power and money".

State Rep. Drew Hansen, the sponsor of the legislation, called the appeals court ruling a "bad day for national-level net neutrality", but a "good day for state-level net neutrality". Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, both R-Mo., have said they oppose the Senate version of the bill.

The case was decided with the panel's three judges concluding the FCC acted lawfully when it made a decision to undo the Obama-era rules and regulate internet providers more lightly.

And while it is true that large tech companies have, in some cases, suppressed the expression of certain political ideas on their online platforms, that suppression-which is not, strictly speaking, censorship in the First Amendment sense, and is legal-has tended to come from social media companies who supported some form of net neutrality.

The federal court directed the FCC to rework its order to include the impact of its repeal on public safety, utility pole access and Lifeline, a program that provides internet access to low-income consumers. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the agency will address the "narrow issues" cited by the court. "Broadband providers will inevitably complain about having to comply with a so-called "patchwork" of different state laws, but that is of their own making". While large ISPs (and the Pai FCC) have tried to frame the FCC's 2015 rules as hugely draconian and restrictive, in reality they were fairly modest by global standards. But the FCC not only failed utterly to show that industry changes warranted such a reversal, its primary justification for repeal (that net neutrality rules stifled industry investment) has been repeatedly proven false.

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