The DC Circuit Court of Appeals slapped the FCC today by ruling in Comcast v. FCC that the regulatory body overstepped its legal bounds when it tried to regulate Internet management practices. This precludes Net Neutrality regulation, which is at heart regulation of how ISPs manage their networks.
Judge David Tatel, Clinton appointed successor of now-Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, wrote for the court that since even the FCC acknowledged it had no “express statutory authority” to go after Comcast for regulating use of Bittorrent on its network, the Commission had to show that the regulation was “reasonably ancillary” to the authority it does have. The FCC did not, and so the FCC’s order to Comcast has been thrown out.
I’m no lawyer, but having lost decisively at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals seems to set a dangerous precedent for the FCC’s future ability to regulate ISPs. That is why the FCC has a plan: reclassify (or deem) ISPs to be something different under the law (make them a Title II service under the Communications Act, which former Chairman Michael Powell says they never, ever have been), and then reassert (or pass) this authority regardless of what the court said.
We’ve got to raise the alarm and pressure the FCC against this deem and pass tactic.