You are here

Appeals Court Delivers Legal Spanking to FCC

News Releases

Title

Appeals Court Delivers Legal Spanking to FCC

Commission Overstepped Its Authority on ISP Rules

Washington, D.C., April 6, 2010— The Federal Communications
Commission was handed a major defeat today by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia in the matter of Comcast v. FCC. In its decision,
the court ruled that the FCC lacks the statutory authority to regulate Internet
service providers’ network management practices.

Telecom analysts at the Competitive Enterprise Institute
welcomed the court’s decision and urged the FCC to abandon its ongoing “Open
Internet” rulemaking proceeding.

“The D.C. Circuit interpreted the Communications Act
properly in its ruling against the FCC, and the decision should come as welcome
news for consumers and entrepreneurs alike,” said Ryan Radia, CEI
Associate Director of Technology Studies. “Hopefully the court’s
ruling will spell an end to the FCC’s push to dictate the outcomes of market
disputes over network access and pricing.”

Some advocacy groups are urging the FCC to reclassify
Internet Service Providers as “common carriers” governed by Title II of the
Communications Act. Such a move would open the door for the Commission to
enforce a broad array of regulations on Internet providers, governing not only
network management but also pricing and access.

“Reclassifying Internet service providers as common carriers
would create significant regulatory uncertainty, endangering the dynamic
Internet marketplace. Worse, reclassification would impede the FCC’s own
goal of ensuring that consumers enjoy ‘competition among network
providers,’” Radia argued.

“Instead of pursuing network neutrality, the FCC should abandon its Open
Internet rulemaking entirely. The Commission should be first in line
articulating the case for preserving and expanding the scope for competing
network business models—open and proprietary,” said Wayne Crews, CEI Vice
President for Policy. “Instead, its philosophy is hostile not merely
to legacy wireline, but to wireless and the yet-to-be.”

“It
would be a grave mistake and historical misfortune for Congress to authorize the
FCC’s Open Internet rulemaking or to otherwise enact coercive net neutrality
legislatively. If Congress wishes to clarify statutes governing the FCC’s
jurisdiction over the Net, it should legislatively affirm that the FCC lacks
authorization to regulate Internet service providers and that future
networks and competitive options are exempt from any such regulation,” Crews
argued.

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan
public interest group that studies the intersection of regulation, risk, and
markets.