communications

Federal Court Upholds Regulations That Threaten Open Internet

Sixteen months after the Federal Communications Commission imposed heavy new regulations on broadband services, a federal appeals court—by a 2-1 vote—upheld the new rules. The decision was a loss not just for providers of internet access, but for the consumers who—up until now—have benefited from the innovation and growth that has stemmed from the internet’s open marketplace.

These rules in effect ban the providers from treating any of the bits of content delivered over their networks any differently than other bits of content on their networks. Thus, for instance, providers would be banned from offering “paid prioritization,” meaning they could not offer premium service to internet content firms for a fee.

The strength of the internet is based on a simple truth: less government intervention and regulation results in innovation and a vibrant exchange of ideas. That has been shown time and again in recent years. But the rules upheld today threaten that success. For the FCC, this is the 1930s all over again—when telephones looked like black candlesticks and comprehensive, innovation-chilling monopoly regulation was the order of the day. It is now Congress’ turn to step in and return the internet to the 21st century.

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