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Court Sets Back FCC Jurisdiction Over Net Neutrality

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 6, 2010 at 4:42AM

In a blow to the FCC's ability to require net neutrality by expanding broadband and barring internet service providers from favoring their own content at the expense of others, on Tuesday a three-judge Federal Appeals court panel ruled against the FCC. Here's The Wrap and THR:The court tossed out an Aug. 2008 cease and desist order by the FCC against Comcast, which had slowed transfer speeds for peer-to-peer file sharing service BitTorrent.
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Thompson on Hollywood

In a blow to the FCC's ability to require net neutrality by expanding broadband and barring internet service providers from favoring their own content at the expense of others, on Tuesday a three-judge Federal Appeals court panel ruled against the FCC. Here's The Wrap and THR:

The court tossed out an Aug. 2008 cease and desist order by the FCC against Comcast, which had slowed transfer speeds for peer-to-peer file sharing service BitTorrent.

UPDATE: "Comcast was caught flagrantly interfering with its customers' traffic for its own purposes, and broadband consumers need better," says Pat Aufderheide, Director of the Center for Social Media at American University. "So does the public; universal access to broadband is a cornerstone of 21st century citizenship. The court only found that FCC did not have the right to censure Comcast, not that Comcast was in the right. The FCC can address the problem by reclassifying where broadband services fall within its own jurisdiction. Let's hope it does."

"Who will protect the internet user whose connection is blocked, filtered or throttled?" asks policy analyst Mehan Jayasuriya at Public Knowledge.com.

According to MarketWatch, "the FCC said it will consider alternative means to promote an open Internet":

The decision could reignite a simmering debate in Congress over whether new laws are needed to guarantee "Net Neutrality" -- the right of Internet customers to use the Web for almost any lawful purpose they want.

Buzzmachine's Jeff Jarvis (whose Bill of Rights in Cyberspace is pictured above) weighs in:

Here’s the rub: On the one hand, I do not want government regulation of the internet. On the other hand, I do not want monopoly discrimination against bits on the internet. I see it as a principle that all bits are, indeed, created equal. But how is this enforced when internet service is provided by monopolies? Regulation. But I don’t want regulation. But… That is the vicious cycle of the net neutrality debate.


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.