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Did a Federal Court Just Kill the Open Internet?

The court said that the Federal Communications Commission did not have the authority to impose regulations that ensure “net neutrality.”

Photo Credit: kentoh/Shutterstock.com

A federal court has struck down regulations meant to ensure that all consumers have equal access to content on the Internet.  The decision by an appeals court is a blow to the efforts those who want to enshrine “net neutrality” rules in U.S. law.

“Net Neutrality” refers to the principle that Internet users should be able to access the web in any way they want, without limitations imposed by Internet Service Providers.  Big companies like Verizon, though, want to be able to create what would amount to a “tiered Internet,” where preferred content would load faster while competing services would be slower.  The court ruling could allow the Internet to become more like cable television.

The court said that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did not have the authority to impose regulations that ensure “net neutrality.”  It’s a win for Verizon, which brought the lawsuit.

The group Common Cause is urging supporters to write the FCC to push for a renewed government effort for “net neutrality.”  

“The FCC can fix this mess -- today. The Court left the FCC an opportunity to write new, stronger rules, but the Comission won't do that unless they hear a sustained public outcry,” Common Cause stated.  They’re trying to collect signatures for a petition that will be sent to the FCC.  

The petition to the FCC reads:  “You can preserve the openness that made the Internet the transformative force it is. We call on you to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service and write strong Open Internet rules that keep the Internet open and uncensored.”

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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