19 Oct 2017
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US Court upholds FCC’s Open Internet rules

MUMBAI: The DC Circuit has upheld the FCC’s Open Internet rules that support net neutrality.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said, “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.”

This means that carriers cannot block or slow down Internet traffic to consumers. They cannot also sometimes quicken sites that agree to pay the providers a fee.

FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn said, “Today’s D.C. Circuit court decision represents a resounding victory for the American people. The Commission relied on a voluminous record, which included more than four million comments, and demonstrated that a free and open internet is at the very heart of our American democracy. I am particularly pleased that the court upheld protections for mobile consumers, something for which I fought mightily during the lead-up to the Commission’s vote last year.

“The Court’s validation of that position makes clear that no matter how one accesses the internet, it will remain an open platform that enables free speech, freedom of expression and innovation to flourish. Since 2010, I have advocated for the strongest legal protections available to ensure that we protect these freedoms. I pushed for the inclusion of questions in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding reclassification of broadband internet access service as a telecommunications service, the treatment of traffic exchange and the evaluation of whether it was appropriate to treat mobile broadband the same as fixed broadband.

“I was pleased when Chairman Wheeler circulated an Order that proposed rules grounded in the strongest legal framework and ensured that mobile consumers will never be subject to a second-class internet. Today’s victory is indeed a shared one, where a startup in the heartland of America can compete on equal footing with an established multinational corporation. This is the free market at its best and it is what has enabled the American dream to come true for so many. I am proud to say that I stood up for these principles and am grateful that the internet will continue to be the platform for robust growth and innovation for all.”

However, AT&T and other telecom, cable and broadband service companies who challenged the FCC, will now move a higher court.

“We have always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court, and we look forward to participating in that appeal,” AT&T General counsel David McAtee said.