VoIP vs. states: the legal battles continue

Lots new to report on the efforts of at least two states to impose regulations on tariffs on VoIP phone services - and Vonage's efforts to resist these initiatives.The St.

Lots new to report on the efforts of at least two states to impose regulations on tariffs on VoIP phone services - and Vonage's efforts to resist these initiatives.

The St. Louis-based United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has upheld aUnited StatesDistrictCourt of Minnesota ruling that forbidsthe Minnesota Public Utilities Commission from regulating services such as Vonage's on the grounds that such offerings areinformation services, not traditional telecommunicationsproducts.

By implication, the ruling backs the FCC's recent 5-0 stance that they are by rights the agency that can decide what VoIP regulations and taxation can be enacted, and by whom.

States, especially those with various taxing caps on more traditional revenue streams, are not happy with the latest rulings. In fact, earlier this week, the Public Utilities Commission of California filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, asking for a review of the FCC ruling.

The petition uses some rather empassioned language, requesting the Court rule on whether the FCC acted "arbitrarily, capriciously and contrary to law" in allowing the FCC exclusive jurisdiction over VoIP.

Jeff Pulver has some interesting points about the place and substance of the filing. He seems to think that the Ninth Circuit's San Francisco location has, over time,facilitated a tech savvy patina that might render that courtmore knowledgeable about, and sympathetic to advanced technology's forward push than the Eighth Circuit, which is based in St. Louis.