A U.S. federal appeals court says that it will not block net neutrality laws, set to go into effect Friday, June 12, despite the fact that large telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon are fighting against them.
The net neutrality laws were approved in February by the FCC, which will now regulate broadband Internet as a public utility under Title II of the Federal Communications Act, in the same way that it keeps watch on phone service providers. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Thursday, June 11, denied petitions for a temporary stay made by AT&T and other opponents of the online traffic rules.
"This is a huge victory for Internet consumers and innovators," said Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. "Starting Friday, there will be a referee on the field to keep the Internet fast, fair and open."
Of course, it's important to mention that the fight isn't over just yet. While the new laws will be put into effect and are backed by President Obama, Internet providers are sure to put forth legal cases to try and reverse the efforts. Courts have already ended the FCC's efforts to establish net neutrality rules twice in the past. Both times, however, the rules were a little more extreme, and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has promised that this time around they will be a little lighter. The rules, for example, will not include regulating the rates of broadband providers, among other things that are often included in Title II and apple to phone providers.
Companies are complaining, however, that the new regulations will open the door to the FCC being able to establish stronger regulations in the future, something that companies warn will slow investment into Internet networks.
The FCC has also already had to fight off a number of lawsuits, some stating that the commission didn't follow the appropriate process for implementing the rules in the first place. Among the companies filing lawsuits are AT&T, CTIA, CenturyLink, U.S. Telecom, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and more.
Despite the suits, Wheeler has expressed confidence that these new laws will stand the test of time. In fact, part of the reason that Internet is being classified under Title II is to give new rules a firmer foundation to regulate Internet providers.
While Internet service providers might not be too pleased with the new laws, the general public has welcomed them with open arms, saying that they will prevent ISPs from being able to manipulate Internet traffic and create "Internet fast lanes," or paid access for faster transmission speeds for certain websites and services online.