Sunday, January 10, 2010

Who’s in charge? - Court to FCC: You Don’t Have Power to Enforce Net Neutrality

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This is yet another important chapter in the ongoing war of Net Neutrality.  This particular battle is between the FCC and Comcast.  While much debate continues over technical and philosophical views of Net Neutrality, Comcast actively manages traffic based upon content, which in turn is based upon Business Objectives and sometimes profit motivated policies which may compete with open internet access.  Certainly, many ISPs would like to manage traffic along the same lines so that they can balance business objectives with open internet access.  Comcast has not waited for the jury to be out on this issue.  Comcast has aggressively been managing traffic based upon self determined content policies, not necessarily in the “Best Interest of the Public Good”.

The FCC, the likely regulator of balance between profit and public good, has been sued by Comcast.

A federal appeals court gave notice Friday it likely would reject the Federal Communications Commission’s authority to fcclogosanction Comcast for throttling peer-to-peer applications.

To be sure, Friday’s reaction to the appellate court hearing made it increasingly clear the Obama administration’s FCC has been preparing for a defeat concerning net neutrality (.pdf), one of the largest issues surrounding internet freedom.

The cable company, which is engaged in talks to merge with NBC Universal, has repeatedly argued the FCC had no right to tell it how to manage its internet traffic. Comcast maintains the FCC’s decision was arbitrary because the enforcement of so-called “net neutrality” rules did not go through the proper rule-making process.

So, Who is in Charge?  Of the Internet that is?  If the Federal Appeals Court have deemed that the FCC has “No Authority” to regulate internet providers, who then?  To be fair, the Courts are not the place to make new legislation, that is the province of the Congress (Oiy).

Traditionally, the FCC has been the Federal Agency unit responsible for this governance.  It is not as if there are other competing agencies vying for this lofty role.  If this ruling stands, what will it mean for Internet Governance?  In the end, how will it affect the Consumer?  After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?  I am sure that this will be taken to the next level.

See My Prior Posts on Net Neutrality

Facta, non verba

(Deeds, not words - Actions speak louder than words)


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