FCC Internet Deregulation Survives Court Challenge [telecom]

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By Scott Feira, John P. Elwood and Peter J. Schildkraut

On October 1, 2019, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit largely
upheld the 2018 Restoring Internet Freedom Order, in which the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) classifies internet access as an
Information Service under Title I of the Communications Act and adopts
a market-based "light touch" policy for governing the internet. The
FCC's 2018 Order was a departure from the FCC's 2015 Open Internet
Order, which had classified internet access as a Telecommunications
Service under Title II of the Communications Act to protect "net
neutrality" and thus potentially opened the way for utility-style
regulation of internet service providers. The case - Mozilla
Corp. v. FCC, No. 18-1051 - was decided in an unsigned per curiam
opinion, probably because multiple judges on the panel wrote parts of
the 186-page opinion.

The court did vacate part of the 2018 Order that would have barred
states from imposing any rule or requirement that the FCC repealed (or
decided to refrain from imposing) in the 2018 Order or that is more
stringent than the 2018 Order. Taking a broad reading of this result,
Judge Stephen F. Williams noted the incongruity in ruling that the FCC
"acted lawfully in rejecting the heavy hand of Title II for the
Internet, but that each of the 50 states is free to impose just that."


Bill Horne
(Remove QRM from my email address to write to me directly)

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