Net Neutrality Court Ruling Praised by CEI Experts

Washington, DC, Jan. 14, 2013 – Today a federal appeals court struck down so-called "net neutrality" rules forcing Internet service providers to make broadband content equal-access. Tuesday's decision against the Federal Communications Commission could mean more freedom for broadband providers to offer faster speed access to consumers seeking higher priority.

The court said: Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such. Because the Commission has failed to establish that the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules do not impose per se common carrier obligations, we vacate those portions of the Open Internet Order.

CEI technology policy experts Wayne Crews and Ryan Radia praised the decision.

Statement by Wayne Crews:

It's a good thing that net neutrality, which is not neutral in any sense, be dead and buried. Net neutrality is another example of over-regulation that flies in the face of every proper tenet of infrastructure wealth creation and expansion of free speech and consumer welfare. Now with the freedom created by this ruling, the Internet as we know it and healthy experimentation can both expand unhindered as investment flourishes. We can have both cyberspace and cyberspaces. Onward to Internet 3.0 and beyond.  

The flaw is giving FCC an opening to regulate later, perhaps under some different moniker; the agency may still “promulgate rules governing broadband providers’ treatment of Internet traffic."

FCC is not likely to stand down. But it will be wrong. 

Statement by Ryan Radia:

Today’s decision by the D.C. Circuit to vacate the core provisions of the FCC’s net neutrality rule is a victory for consumers, who stand to benefit from an Internet unhindered by regulations that pick winners and losers among the many firms that compete in the multi-sided Internet marketplace. Now, the FCC must decide whether to try to re-regulate broadband providers as common carriers or to respect the freedom of broadband providers to forge agreements with content providers and thus foster the virtuous cycle of Internet investment and innovation.

Unfortunately, however, the D.C. Circuit’s opinion leaves open the door for the FCC to attempt again to impose net neutrality rules on broadband providers through another round of regulatory acrobatics. Congress should close this door once and for all by amending the Communications Act to affirm that broadband providers are not subject common carrier regulation. Meanwhile, if the FCC genuinely wants to help broadband users, it should use its existing authority to prevent local governments from unreasonably impeding the deployment of fiber-optic services, which remain largely unavailable in many major U.S. cities.

For a broad survey of why economic regulation of infrastructure, not just in telecom, is so misguided in the modern age, see Before Net Neutrality Eats The World

Part 1: Net Neutrality vs. Infrastructure Wealth
Part 2: An Alternative Case for Agency Neutrality
Part 3: The FCC’s Disdain for Markets
Part 4: FCC Order Creates Political Vulnerability for All Market Participants
Part 5: The Fallacies Motivating Net Neutrality
Part 6: Does “Market Failure” Demand Neutrality Regulation?
Part 7: Mandatory Dumb Pipes? But Why Sacrifice Genius?
Part 8: The Essential Elements of Non-Destructive Rulemaking
Part 9: How to Expand Consumer Choice and Access to Content
Part 10: Who’s Discriminating Online?
Part 11: The Inappropriateness of Compulsory Transparency
Part 12: Why Net Neutrality Threatens Homeland Security and Cybersecurity
Part 13: What FCC Should Do Now
Part 14: What Should Congress Do About Net Neutrality?
Part 15: Can We Please End This. Please.