Net neutrality had its day in court on Friday, as open internet advocates defended the FCC’s new rules during oral arguments before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The FCC is being sued by Internet Service Providers, who wish to be able to block and throttle online communication based on its content.
MDF was encouraged by the judges’ questions and comments, which appeared to accept the importance of net neutrality and the legality of the FCC’s approach. The three-judge panel included Judge David S. Tatel, who wrote the decision vacating the FCC’s last attempt to create net neutrality protections but appeared more amenable to the FCC’s authority under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.
The Court must also consider whether the FCC has authority to regulate interconnection disputes, and whether the open internet rules can be equally applied to wired and mobile internet access.
The decision won’t be released for several months, and the case may ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court if the ISPs or the FCC decides to appeal. Fortunately, the FCC’s open internet rules will remain in force while the legal questions are decided.