So a Federal Appeals Court just struck down the FCC's Open Internet Order on the basis that they didn't have the grounds to regulate the ISPs as they were considered an information service, not Common Carrier Services like telecoms, according to the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
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. Because the Commission has failed to establish that the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules do not impose per se common carrier obligations, we vacate those portions of the Open Internet Order.
So what does this mean? Well, the basic purpose of the Open Internet Order was, in the FCC's view, meant to provide for transparency in the process of how ISPs operated their networks and prevent discriminatory access too and outright blocking of legal content on the Internet:
What the Court has just done is say that the FCC, due to the classification of ISPs as Information Services instead of Common Carriers, did not have the authority to do so. Which means that said regulations against them to prevent discrimination and blocking are not enforceable.
This is a rather bad thing
, coupled with a market that is heavily
monopolized and sees ISPs competing with other services on the web, particularly when it comes to online video: Many providers offer video on demand services, if not being Cable Television providers already; thus, having to allow access to services such as Netflix, Hulu, etc. tend to be a bit of a blow to the ISPs own offerings.
This is not so much of a problem when you can either charge your competition to be allowed decent access speeds if not any access period on your network. Which, without these regulations would be perfectly legal for ISPs to do. In other words, we've allowed service providers to be the gatekeepers for their own competition.
Chairman Tom Wheeler has made comments recently towards further promoting an open Internet
, though I remain cynical as to whether or not we'll see much push for it given his background as an industry lobbyist
You can read the full ruling here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/199616222/DC-Net-Neutrality-ruling
With that in mind, the question that comes to mind is: What can the FCC do to prevent an already monopolistic industry from further exercising anti-competitive power against both services and users? Congress is already mired in deadlock, with the House majority held by a party whose belief on regulations is that less is better and any problems will be solved by letting the market handle itself, an ideology seemingly refuted by looking at the workings of the already ISP-favorable regulatory environment that exists regarding the Internet and where many communities have at best two providers to choose from, where infrastructure improvements are shelved before communities even have a chance at them
What can we do to promote working policy for an open Internet and improve Internet infrastructure and access in the country?