Verizon Wins Net Neutrality Court Ruling Against FCC + Full Text of Decision & ALA Statement
UPDATE: We’ve updated this post with statements from ALA, ARL, and an embedded radio discussion about the decision from WNYC in New York City.
Verizon Communications Inc. won its challenge to U.S. open-Internet regulations as an appeals court ruled against the Federal Communications Commission, saying the agency’s restrictions have no basis in federal law.
The FCC rule required companies that provide businesses and consumers high-speed Internet service over wires to treat all traffic equally. With the regulation voided, companies such as Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. could face new charges for fast connections.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington today sent the rules back to the FCC, which may attempt to rewrite the regulations that bar companies from slowing or blocking some Internet traffic.
By classifying Internet access as an “information service” as opposed to a “telecommunications service,” which is the classification used for traditional telephone companies, the FCC cannot impose its “anti-discrimination” and “anti-blocking” rules on Internet providers, the court said.
“Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such,” the judges wrote.
ALA Comments on Decision
The American Library Association said they’re “troubled” by today’s ruling and also said they are “extremely disappointing” by the decision. Here’s a portion of a statement they’ve released.
“The court’s decision gives commercial companies the astounding legal authority to block Internet traffic, give preferential treatment to certain Internet services or applications, and steer users to or away from certain web sites based on their own commercial interests. This ruling, if it stands, will adversely affect the daily lives of Americans and fundamentally change the open nature of the Internet, where uncensored access to information has been a hallmark of the communication medium since its inception.
“Public libraries have become leading providers of public Internet access, providing service to millions of students, elderly citizens, people seeking employment and many others every single day. Approximately 77 million people use public library Internet access every year. These users of libraries’ Internet services, and people all across the country, deserve equal access to online information and services.
You can read the full text of their statement here.
UPDATE: ARL Comments on the Decision
Carol Pitts Diedrichs, president of ARL stated, “The intellectual freedom that libraries, colleges, and universities have long championed would be threatened if network operators act as gatekeepers, bar access to competing or nonprofit voices, or relegate unpopular or non-commercial expression to the Internet’s slow lanes. We look forward to working with the FCC in considering the avenues available to ensure effective network neutrality and open Internet rules going forward.”
An open Internet is increasingly critical to the research library community as educational institutions provide a growing number of distance learning services and online instruction such as MOOCs. The Internet is essential infrastructure to higher education for research, teaching, and learning and has driven innovation, sparked creativity, and promoted collaboration.
Statements by FCC Chairman and Commissioners
Statement by Verizon
UPDATE: The End of Equal Internet Access? (via WNYC)
Public radio decision about the decision the features:
- Scott Cleland, Chairman of Net Competition, an e-forum that represents broadband interests including AT&T and Verizon
- Susan Crawford, a visiting professor at Harvard Law School
Full Text of Appellate Court Ruling
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.