Should Internet access remain free and open?

In a heavyweight battle between Verizon and the FCC, the future of open Internet channels hangs in the balance.

Verizon and the FCC are going toe-to-toe this week in a battle over the rights of Internet service providers to restrict content online.

On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and U.S. carrier Verizon attended the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, where a two-hour session of oral arguments took place.

Verizon argues that it should have the power to regulate its own Internet pipelines in the network it has spent billions constructing. If able to do so, the carrier has the potential to tap into additional revenue streams by offering content providers premium channels and access to consumers.

However, the FCC -- which has regulated U.S. telecommunications for the past 80 years -- says that ISPs should treat all legal traffic equally. If ISPs are allowed to use their channels for additional profit, then the agency believes 'the next big thing' and future Internet entrepreneurs could lose out to companies with large amounts of capital.

However, judges on the case remained skeptical that the FCC has the authority necessary to regulate Internet content.

Verizon's team argued that old regulations -- known as the Open Internet laws -- had to be struck down as a whole, and that Congress never intended for the agency to regulate the Internet and content therein.

The agency's lawyers said that the FCC has the authority to govern the Internet under numerous parts of the Telecommunications Act, and that companies with equal access to the Internet are encouraged to innovate.

The case is expected to be decided late this year or early next year.

Via: The New York Times

Image credit: Brian Turner

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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