Comcast wins U.S. Appeal Court case, denies FCC oversight authority

The U.S. Appeals court rejected the FCC's jurisdiction claim of managing Network Internet traffic
Written by Doug Hanchard, Contributor

A U.S. appellate court rejected the FCC's jurisdiction claim of managing Network Internet traffic which Comcast began doing last year. Reuters published the court decision earlier Tuesday. Comcast filed suit last year in 2008 claiming the FCC had no authority over its network management practices, which came to light when a Comcast Internet subscriber noticed service degradation.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the FCC failed to show it had the necessary authority to impose such restrictions on network management.

"It relies principally on several congressional statements of policy, but under Supreme Court and D.C. Circuit case law statements of policy, by themselves, do not create 'statutorily mandated responsibilities,'" the three-judge panel said.

"The commission also relies on various provisions of the Communications Act that do create such responsibilities, but for a variety of substantive and procedural reasons those provisions cannot support its exercise of ancillary authority over Comcast's network management practices," they said.

Comcast filed suit when the FCC claimed it had the right to regulate the company's Internet network management in 2008. Comcast complied with the FCC's decision in the interim. Comcast Internet subscribers may notice changes if the FCC does not appeal.

The FCC may appeal the Supreme Court. Most analysts believe the Commission will do so. The FCC's response to the Courts decision:

Federal Communications Commission Spokesperson Jen Howard:

“The FCC is firmly committed to promoting an open Internet and to policies that will bring the enormous benefits of broadband to all Americans. It will rest these policies -- all of which will be designed to foster innovation and investment while protecting and empowering consumers -- on a solid legal foundation.

“Today’s court decision invalidated the prior Commission’s approach to preserving an open Internet. But the Court in no way disagreed with the importance of preserving a free and open Internet; nor did it close the door to other methods for achieving this important end.”

Additional resources:

FCC's National Broadband Plan: Net Neutrality, R.I.P.

FCC releases 'Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan'

FCC may set aside free wireless spectrum for Internet broadband

FCC, Comcast, others testify before Congress: NBC Universal-Comcast merger

Net Neutrality: Why the Internet will never be free. For anything. So get used to it

AT&T to FCC: Open to Net Neutrality ideas - with conditions

Net Neutrality: You own the Internet - make sure it becomes Law

Internet: A threat to government or the other way around?

Electronic Frontier Foundation links net neutrality to copyright

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