An appeals court decision may leave many wondering whether an open Internet's days are numbered.
The Federal Communications Commission does not have the legal authority to slap Net neutrality regulations on Internet providers, a federal appeals court ruled this week. The three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. unanimously tossed out the FCC's August 2008 cease-and-desist order against cable and ISP giant Comcast, which had taken measures to slow BitTorrent transfers before voluntarily ending them earlier that year.
The decision could also doom one of the signature initiatives of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Last October, Genachowski announced plans to begin drafting a formal set of Net neutrality rules--even though Congress has not given the agency permission to do so.
While the recent court ruling has indeed cleared Comcast's name, some consumer advocates say the consequence of this ruling is that it has also stripped the FCC of its power to enforce basic Internet openness principles. These advocates are calling for new laws and regulations that will protect the Net.
But the ruling, which is still being examined by lawyers on both sides of the debate, may not cause as much damage as some people fear. To get the low-down on how this court decision will affect the FCC, broadband Internet service providers, and consumers, check out this FAQ.
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