DC Circuit Court Rules Against FCC On Net Neutrality


Yesterday the DC Circuit Court dealt another blow to the Obama administration’s attempts to rule by fiat. The Court ruled against the FCC on net neutrality which it tried to impose by decree after it couldn’t pass in Congress.

Another day, another judicial rebuke to the Obama Administration’s abusive rule-making habits. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit tossed out as illegal the Federal Communications Commission’s bald attempt to regulate the Internet.

For those keeping score at home, that means the FCC is now zero for two in its attempts to impose “net neutrality” rules on the Internet. Net neutrality travels under the guise of ordering Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast CMCSA not to discriminate against content providers. In reality it’s a government attempt to dictate how these providers must manage their Internet pipes and how much they can charge companies for using those pipes.

Silicon Valley kingpins like net neutrality because it means Verizon can’t charge Google’s YouTube or Netflix more for using more capacity or faster speeds. This makes no more economic sense than forcing a cable company to charge one price no matter how many channels a consumer subscribes to, or saying a retailer can’t charge more for two dresses than for one. It also means less innovation and slower broadband rollout because Internet companies are less sure of their return on investment.

Read the whole thing. The Court did leave an opening for the FCC to impose more rules, but the dissenting opinion provides a “road map” for opposing any new attempts to institute net neutrality.

If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, Robert McDowell laid it all out in another Wall Street Journal piece.

But the trouble is, nothing needs fixing. The Internet has remained open and accessible without FCC micromanagement since it entered public life in the 1990s. And more regulation could produce harmful results, such as reduced infrastructure investment, stunted innovation, slower speeds and higher prices for consumers. The FCC never bothered to study the impact that such intervention might have on the broadband market before leaping to regulate. Nor did it consider the ample consumer-protection laws that already exist. The government’s meddling has been driven more by ideology and a 2008 campaign promise by then-Sen. Barack Obama than by reality.

Further FCC attempts to regulate the Internet could trigger global regulation of the Internet by the International Telecommunication Union, a treaty-based organization under the U.N.’s control. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies have been working for a decade to upend a 1988 agreement—forged by delegates from 114 countries—to leave the Internet unfettered. The U.S. has so far been opposed to applying new international rules for the Internet. In October, 193 countries will gather again for talks to conclude a new treaty that will decide the Internet’s fate. Proponents hope to build off victories won last year at International Telecommunication Union talks in Dubai that gave the agency narrow authority to regulate. The goal is to achieve what Mr. Putin summarized in 2011 as “international control of the Internet.” (Read More)

McDowell, a former FCC commissioner, went on to note that the US is being scorned by the international community because they’re saying they can regulate the internet, but others cannot. Trying to regulate what has been, and still is, “the greatest deregulation success story of all time” only plays into the hands of “pro-regulation regimes.”