By Amy Schatz Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, April 7, 2010
A U.S. appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission overstepped when it cited cable-giant Comcast Corp. for slowing some Internet traffic on its network, dealing a blow to big Web commerce companies and other proponents of "net neutrality."
In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the FCC exceeded its authority when it sanctioned Comcast in 2008 for deliberately preventing some subscribers from using peer-to-peer file-sharing services to download large files.
At stake is how far the FCC can go to dictate the way Internet providers like AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. manage traffic on their multibillion-dollar networks. For the past decade or so, the FCC has maintained a mostly hands-off approach to Internet regulation. But that could soon change, likely setting off a prolonged, expensive lobbying battle pitting Web-content providers against Internet-service providers.