Net neutrality: five questions after court struck down the rules

The principle of “net neutrality” was struck down by a federal appeals court on Jan. 14. Here’s an explanation of the issues involved.

5. What’s next?

The FCC has three options. It can appeal the ruling to the full circuit court of appeals, meaning its 11 sitting judges would rehear the case. Or, it could petition the US Supreme Court to hear the case. But any appeal could have the effect of stripping even more power from the federal agency.

It could also simply redefine broadband as a telecommunications service and regulate it again as such. (Most critics find the “information” definition bogus anyway.) But this would create a political maelstrom, and Republican members of Congress would make life difficult for the agency. And even the current FCC chairman, appointed by President Obama, doesn’t think broadband should be regulated the same way as “common” services.

Many think the FCC will simply stay put for now, watching how the industry evolves and bringing individual cases when it believes consumers are harmed by illegal, anticompetitive actions – if that falls within its statutory jurisdiction.

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