|Weekly News Digest
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Appeals Court Decision Serves as Setback for Net Neutrality Initiatives
The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lacks the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all internet traffic flowing over their networks. The text of the court decision, which rules in favor of Comcast Corp., is available at http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/common/opinions/201004/08-1291-1238302.pdf.
A report in The New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2010/04/07/technology/07net.html) indicated that, "As a practical matter, the court ruling will not have any immediate impact on internet users, since Comcast and other large internet providers are not currently restricting specific types of web content and have no plans to do so."
However, the Open Internet Coalition says the decision "creates a dangerous situation, one where the health and openness of broadband internet is being held hostage by the behavior of the major telco and cable providers." The group calls for the FCC to open a proceeding to clarify its authority over broadband network providers (http://openinternetcoalition.com/index.cfm?objectID=D41A7537-1D09-317F-BB479B7596F7B20C).
The FCC then issued a statement (http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-297355A1.pdf) by spokesperson Jen Howard, as follows:
The FCC is firmly committed to promoting an open internet and to policies that will bring the enormous benefits of broadband to all Americans. It will rest these policies-all of which will be designed to foster innovation and investment while protecting and empowering consumers-on a solid legal foundation.
Today's court decision invalidated the prior Commission's approach to preserving an open internet. But the Court in no way disagreed with the importance of preserving a free and open internet; nor did it close the door to other methods for achieving this important end.
Comcast issued the following statement (www.comcast.com/About/PressRelease/PressReleaseDetail.ashx?PRID=984) attributable to Sena Fitzmaurice, vice president of government communications:
We are gratified by the Court's decision today to vacate the previous FCC's order. Our primary goal was always to clear our name and reputation. We have always been focused on serving our customers and delivering the quality open-Internet experience consumers want. Comcast remains committed to the FCC's existing open internet principles, and we will continue to work constructively with this FCC as it determines how best to increase broadband adoption and preserve an open and vibrant internet.
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