As many of us predicted all along, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the FCC’s Open Internet order, which attempted to force “Net Neutrality” on the nation. The Open Internet order was part of a plan claimed to oppose “discrimination” but in practice would hinder ISPs from charging people for what bandwidth they use.
The FCC had previously attempted to enforce such rules illegally, but lost in the Comcast v FCC case. This time Verizon took them on, and the FCC lost again.
If we don’t win the next Presidential election, I expect an even more radical attempt next time, though a move called Title II Reclassification.
You see, back in the Clinton years, a bill passed with bipartisan support that freed the Internet from burdensome regulation. It was called the Telecommunications Act, and its specifically separated information services from telecommunications services, disallowing the FCC from imposing the same degree of regulations on Internet services that they can on the Phone company.
This was important in the debate before the Open Internet order, because Net Neutrality had already been ruled illegal in the Comcast case. So the radical left had argued that the FCC should wave a magic wand and declare that Internet service providers are no longer information services, and are now phone companies, and so should be reclassified as such.
Today’s decision in Verizon v FCC rests on the classification of ISPs as being information services, as envisioned by the Telecommunications Act, which again was passed by Newt Gingrich’s House and signed by Bill Clinton. That’s how much of a common-sense thing it used to be, to have a lightly-regulated Internet.
But having lost in court twice without Title II Reclassification, I do expect them to try that trick next time. And here’s one fact that should concern us about that: Gigi Sohn, formerly of pro-reclassification Public Knowledge (in fact she previously criticized reclassification plans for not going far enough), is now an advisor to new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
So all that talk about Wheeler being a moderate? Don’t count on it for a second. Watch this FCC. It has a dangerous majority from the left.