Monday, April 5, 2010

U.S. Court Vacates FCC Order on Net Neutrality

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the FCC does not have the authority to regulate the way Comcast manages peer-to-peer traffic on its network. The 3-0 court decision focused on the FCC's "ancillary authority" over broadband services.

The ruling vacated an FCC Order issued in August of 2008 in which the FCC concluded that Comcast's management of its broadband Internet networks contravenes federal policies that protect the vibrant and open nature of the Internet. Specifically, the FCC concluded that by monitoring the content of its customers' traffic and selectively blocking certain peer-to-peer connections, Comcast unduly interfered with Internet users' right to access the lawful Internet content and to use the applications of their choice. The issue was first brought to light by Comcast subscribers who noticed that they had problems using peer-to- peer applications, such as BitTorrent, over their Comcast broadband connections.

In a press statement, Sena Fitzmaurice, Comcast's Vice President of Government Communications, said:

"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."

In a press statement, the FCC said:

"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."