The D.C. Circuit released its opinion today in US Telecom v FCC, handing a historic victory to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), net neutrality advocates, and consumers. In a 2-1 decision, the Court of Appeals upheld reclassification for both fixed and mobile broadband services, preserving the FCC’s ability to ensure that carriers treat equally all traffic crossing their networks.
“Today’s decision is a victory for consumers, free expression, and the core principles on which the internet was created. The Court made the right decision in affirming the FCC’s decision on reclassification of internet broadband services, providing the best path forward for advancement of consumer choice, access, and privacy rights,” said Lisa Hayes, CDT Vice President for Programs & Strategy.
All three judges hearing the case agreed that the Commission has the statutory authority to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service. Judges Tatel and Srinivasan further found that the decision to reclassify was a reasonable one, upholding the FCC’s action to apply a limited number of common sense “common carrier” rules to prevent broadband providers from disadvantaging competitors or imposing special fees on content providers for “fast lanes” to consumers.
This case arose in April 2015, when US Telecom and other trade groups representing internet service providers (ISPs) challenged the FCC’s reclassification of fixed and mobile broadband internet access services as a telecommunications service and its subsequent regulation under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. CDT joined the case as an intervenor in support of the Commission’s Open Internet Order’s bright-line rules against blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization of internet traffic. The Order also paves the way for privacy protections to ensure that internet users have a clear understanding and choice in how broadband providers use or share information about their online activities.
“As the Circuit Court found, the FCC carefully reviewed a complete record in the Open Internet proceeding and clearly explained its approach for putting in place meaningful open internet protections,” Hayes added.