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Federal Court Kills Net Neutrality, Says FCC Lacks Authority. 383

Posted by timothy
from the we'll-have-to-agree-to-disagree dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to a report from Gizmodo, a U.S. Appeals Court has invalidated the FCC's Net Neutrality rules. From the decision: 'Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such. Because the Commission has failed to establish that the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules do not impose per se common carrier obligations, we vacate those portions of the Open Internet Order.' Could this be the final nail in the coffin for Net Neutrality? Or will the FCC fight back? This submitter really, really hopes they fight back..."
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Federal Court Kills Net Neutrality, Says FCC Lacks Authority.

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  • common carrier (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:34AM (#45952087) Homepage

    It's past time to just classify them as common carriers and stop trying to make an end-run around the rules.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:36AM (#45952113)

    There's a comment in the article stating that the court found the FCC regulations are not needed because consumers have a choice in broadband providers. That argument always make me shake my head. I have one broadband option - Comcast. Verizon FIOS isn't here. I suspect most people are actually in the same boat as me. There really is no viable broadband option to my local cable provider. Who/where are these people that have these so-called choices?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:40AM (#45952203)

    See what happens when leftists are left with their hands in the cookie jar? Fraud, abuse of power, general asshatedness.

    As opposed to when the people on the right are left with their hands in the cookie jar ... Fraud, abuse of power, general asshatedness.

    Sorry there, dumbass, but politicians of all stripes are douchebags.

    The ones on the right just pander more to large corporations and their drinking buddies, to the detriment of all of us.

  • by mlw4428 (1029576) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:41AM (#45952229)
    Generally speaking the idea of anti-Net Neutrality is an anti-business, conservative idea. It "stifles" the "free market" by forcing regulations on businesses. The conservative's "free market" approach would be to let ISPs decide if they want to charge on a per-site basis and let consumers go to other ISPs who will simply do the same thing.
  • by Antipater (2053064) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:43AM (#45952271)
    That depends on which Appeals Court it is. There are thirteen of them.
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:50AM (#45952401) Homepage

    It sounds like this is a technicality because the FCC's rules are inconsistent with law. They need to fix them.

    I am reposting this comment by "CakeStapler" from GizModo because it explains it well:

    As we explain in this opinion, the Commission has established that section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 vests it with affirmative authority to enact measures encouraging the deployment of broadband infrastructure. The Commission, we further hold, has reasonably interpreted section 706 to empower it to promulgate rules governing broadband providers’ treatment of Internet traffic, and its justification for the specific rules at issue here—that they will preserve and facilitate the “virtuous circle” of innovation that has driven the explosive growth of the Internet—is reasonable and supported by substantial evidence. That said, even though the Commission has general authority to regulate in this arena, it may not impose requirements that contravene express statutory mandates. Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such. Because the Commission has failed to establish that the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules do not impose per se common carrier obligations, we vacate those portions of the Open Internet Order.

    (Emphasis mine)

    So, the FCC will remove their exemption from treatment as common carriers, reenact the regulations, and there's nothing to see here. 20 minutes ago

  • Re:Free market.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:51AM (#45952407) Homepage Journal

    I loved the sarcasm, it was not immediately obvious -- which is absolutely the best kind.

    Granted, on a tech site full of Sheldons, it might be a good idea to throw in a [/sarcasm] at the end of the post ... just in case someone missed it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:55AM (#45952477)

    The conservative's "free market" approach would be to let ISPs decide if they want to charge on a per-site basis and let consumers go to other ISPs who will simply do the same thing.

    Sure, but the conservative's "free market" approach would also leave it up to companies to decide if they want to pollute, allow car dealers to lock out Tesla (because they don't want competition), absolve Monsanto from liability, further deregulate the financial industry to allow Wall Street to rob us like they were doing before the '08 meltdown, and further extending copyright.

    In other words, more crony-capitalism where the rich are free to make backroom deals which benefit them, and which harm the rest of us, and the 'freedom' of the market mostly restricted to big players who paid off the politicians.

  • by ichthus (72442) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:03PM (#45952613) Homepage

    allow car dealers to lock out Tesla

    No, this requires government interference with the free market (legislation against Tesla's business model). In a free market, Tesla could... *cough* MAR-KET freely to whomever.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:03PM (#45952619)

    Lol, if only that was true, since the current administration, which is so far left, has completely pandered to every huge corporation...but keep spewing...

  • Re:common carrier (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nutria (679911) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:11PM (#45952737)

    Does this classification require legislation or something?

    Hopefully. After all, bureaucrats shouldn't be able to just pass any regulations they feel like. Instead, they should be bound by the bills that the Congress passes and the President signs.

    Likewise, the Courts should not invent new law based upon their own feelings of what's Right and Wrong, but on the actual text of Laws and the Constitution.

  • Re:The future... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:11PM (#45952741) Journal

    The future: broadband packages sold like cable packages.

    Basic: $59.99/mo gets you the top 100 websites like whatismyip.com (with commercials inserted before your IP is finally revealed), comcast.com, nbc.com, and 80 other websites you've never heard of nor would ever visit. All with added commercial interstitials.

    Friends and Family: $89.99 gets you the basic package plus access to twitter, myspace and livejournal so you can share your experiences on The Comasticnet with all of your friends. Every third post is replaced with an ad, and every morning you automatically tweet how Comcastic your day is.

    Movie Watcher: $129.99 gets you the basic package plus access to nbc.com streaming*. You can buy the netflix channel for an additional $10/mo and youtube SD for $5/mo or HD (720p videos only) for $10/mo. As a special deal you can sign up for Movie Watcher and Friends and Family for a low introductory price of $150/mo (*: standard rates only allow 24 hours of video streaming per month. Additional programming charged at pay per view rates of $5/MB)

  • Re:common carrier (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jythie (914043) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:16PM (#45952833)
    That is a good question. From what I gather, who counts as a 'Common Carrier' does not require legislative changes, courts and regulators define it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:17PM (#45952845)

    No, this requires government interference with the free market

    Yes, by conservative lawmakers who claim to be proponents of a "free" market, when in fact they're in proponents of crony-capitalism.

    In other words, the conservatives braying about a free market (which is a myth) are full of shit (which isn't a myth).

  • by jythie (914043) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:18PM (#45952867)
    I would rather be able to choose my ISP from a rich selection of carriers and not have other ISPs (or my own) interfere with my communicating with businesses.
  • by Ichijo (607641) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:20PM (#45952915) Homepage Journal

    Maybe your area is too rural to support more than one broadband provider, just like it might be too rural to support more than one freeway, or gas station, or supermarket, or school. Some things are more economical in cities, so consider the lack of broadband providers one of the costs of living close to nature.

    Or maybe your neighborhood signed a contract with a broadband provider that prevents others from competing. Such contracts ought to be illegal, but they aren't. Until the FCC makes such contracts illegal, if such a contract is in force in your community, you should lobby your community representative to end that contract.

    Meanwhile, you're always free to setup a community broadband co-op. Just don't ask the city to pay for it or the incumbent communication company will have a fit.

  • by matbury (3458347) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:31PM (#45953081) Homepage
    What part of full spectrum corporate domination don't you get? It's oligarchies all the way!
  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:32PM (#45953091) Journal
    I second this sentiment. Where I live, there's Comcast, or there's essentially nothing. The only other in-home option I'd have would be to get landline phone service and an analog modem, and enjoy 1990's style dialup at a maximum of 28.8kbps (yes, no 56k, even), and I'd pay total more than I'm paying Comcast for 8mbps cable modem access.

    Many people either use a cellphone or use VOIP in some form or another. It's time to declare internet service providers a Public Utility and be done with it. You can't even effectively get a job anymore unless you have access to the internet! Even your cellphone is useless without the internet! How many people still pay their gas and electric bills through snail mail? Not many, I'll bet you. It's time!
  • Sadly there is NO left or right wing in the USSA anymore and hasn't been for several decades. What we have is "pro media fascists" and "pro wall street fascists" and that is it, the so-called "left" is just as fascist as the right the ONLY difference is one is pro media cartel while the other leans more towards Wall street. Oh and one gets a really big stiffie when they can kick a poor person, but that's really it.

    As the late great Bill Hicks put it over 20 years ago "I think the puppet on the left shares MY beliefs, well i think the puppet on the right has MY interests at heart...hey wait a minute, there is one guy working both puppets!"

  • by gfxguy (98788) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @01:15PM (#45953923)

    At least it's some choice... the same ones I have. If I could half of comcast's speed from someone else, I'd be there - I already canned their asses for the lousy TV service I got, but if I want to work at home occasionally then I need better than what I can get from AT&T. Aside from them, there's satellite (really expensive and high latency), and nothing else.

    As I mentioned in another post - I am Comcast's customer, not Netflix or Hulu or anybody else. I am the customer and if I am choosing to use the bandwidth that I paid for by using Netflix, then that's my prerogative. If Comcast has a problem with it, the problem is with me, not the content provider I chose.

  • Re:common carrier (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @01:20PM (#45954037) Homepage

    Hence the court ruling that it was, in fact, not fair. Which is why the FCC should redefine Internet transit services (services which "connect" you to the Internet) as common carriers.

  • Re:common carrier (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tlambert (566799) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @01:35PM (#45954275)

    This always seemed like the obvious move.

    Can someone explain why they didn't just do this instead? Does this classification require legislation or something?

    They typical reason given is that they can't be classified as *BOTH* "common carrier" and "information service", and by virtue of using the same infrastructure and corporate entity for both sets of service, they get to be classified as one or the other, with different rules applied.

    As a common carrier, they would be required to allow other cable providers to sell cable TV services over their physical infrastructure, and so they themselves have been objecting to reclassification, not just because of net neutrality, but as an anticompetition lockout.

  • by Internetuser1248 (1787630) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @02:44PM (#45955667)
    There are no 'leftists' in US politics. You only have extreme right and moderate right, and there are very few of the latter.
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @02:46PM (#45955721) Homepage Journal

    There are no 'leftists' in US politics. You only have extreme right and moderate right, and there are very few of the latter.

    True. What passes for left here is regarded as right of center in most countries.

    What passes for far left is what most countries call "moderate".

  • by fredprado (2569351) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @02:47PM (#45955747)
    Only if you have absolutely no clue about what is left and what is right.
  • by jeff4747 (256583) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @02:51PM (#45955819)

    Witness the latest Target breach. Millions stopped shopping there and Target was (rightfully) forced to take numerous steps to draw people back in.

    Because there are alternatives for shopping. I have exactly 1 choice for high-speed Internet, Time Warner Cable. When they roll out their tiered Internet and I don't like it, what do you propose I do?

    A grocery store near where I lived stopped carrying a lot of things I liked to buy. So I stopped shopping there.

    And if they were the only grocery store, you'd just cheerfully starve, right?

    Basically any company that has customers, is accountable and will self-regulate based on customer feedback.

    And when you grow up, you'll realize that this little theory only works if the customers have alternatives.

    If you'd like an example: text messaging: It uses some empty space during the messages that a GSM phone has to send to the tower anyway. It costs the phone company virtually nothing (just the routing servers, which aren't pricey). Yet there are zero cell providers in the US that offer really "free" text messaging. All of them require paying more than "voice only" plans.

    How about baggage fees on airlines? With every airline other than Southwest charging them, customers actually don't have alternatives.

    And that doesn't even get into the situations where nominal competitors directly collude to screw over customers.

  • Re:common carrier (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @02:56PM (#45955889)

    No, actually that's the crux of the issue. Common carriers CAN'T fuck with the packages. Fedex isn't liable for all the crazy shit you ship through them and they can't fuck with your packages. They can't delay all packages sent from Texas because their legislaters aren't playing ball and they can't charge extra to deliver to abortion clinics because they're a common carrier. Fedex isn't hauled to court for drug dealers shipping drugs, or for game companies shipping brass knuckles to game reviewers in California.

    Likewise if your ISP was a common carrier, it can't fuck with the messages just because they think JohnnyMcSpammalot is being obnoxious and loud. And that includes throttling.

    And arguably can't perform any "quality of service". Then again, Fedex really does handle packages differently depending on where they're going, but it's cool because they're not dicks about it and they're just trying to do better business. If ISPs were upfront about their QoS, then they'd probably dodge that bullet too.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @03:21PM (#45956263) Journal
    you can't say there is no left in US.

    Bullshit
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    there is no left in US
    See? I *can* say "there is no left in US". And believe it or not, it's actually true. there is no left in US...

  • Re:leftists.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @04:02PM (#45956915)

    We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share ... sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary – and that’s crazy. Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver, or less?

    -- Ronald Reagan, 1985

    These days a remark like that would get him labelled a "Leftist", if not worse.

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