Major Court Decision on Net Neutrality

The following paragraphs are from “The Net Neutrality Court Decision in Plain English,” written by Brian Fung for the Washington Post:

“Some debates are so important to the healthy function of the Internet that they’re worth learning about in depth, and in the process grasping their implications for free speech, online commerce, educational opportunity and all the reasons that make the Internet worth using in the first place.

“One of those debates reached a key turning point Tuesday, when a federal appeals court said that the Internet is basically like a giant telephone network and that the companies that provide it, such as Comcast and Verizon, must offer essentially the same protections to Internet users that the government has required of phone companies for decades. . . .

“In a nutshell, they’re aimed at making sure the Internet stays an open platform and that cable and telecom companies can’t use their position in the marketplace to unfairly benefit themselves and shut down competition.

“More specifically, the rules come in several parts. The first part contains a series of total bans on certain kinds of tactics — things like blocking or slowing down the websites you’re trying to reach while favoring the sites that a cable or telco may own or have a commercial relationship with. These flatly aren’t allowed under what the FCC calls its “bright-line rules.”

“Then there’s a provision that allows the FCC to investigate suspicious ISP activity, under what it calls a “general conduct standard.” Essentially, if the agency thinks a certain practice may run afoul of the rules, it can go after it on a case-by-case basis.

“There’s a part of the regulation that tries to extend these expectations to wireless carriers, which we’ve already briefly discussed.

“And underpinning it all, making it the case’s biggest point of controversy, is the decision to regulate ISPs like legacy phone companies. Without this one move, all the rest of it comes falling down, because it’s this provision that legally enables the FCC to put the other rules in writing.”


Brian Fung’s complete article is available at:


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