In split decision, Appeals Court says that states can legislate net neutrality



Just because we haven't written about net neutrality in a while doesn't mean that the battle to restore the Obama era rules had died. As you might recall, net neutrality rules prevented wireless carriers and ISPs from favoring certain content over others. For example, a streaming video service would not be allowed to deliver suitcases of cash to a wireless provider in exchange for a "fast lane." So in other words, net neutrality makes sure that all streaming content is treated the same. In addition, it also prevents carriers from blocking the transmission of text or other messages that are not aligned with their political views.

The FCC, under Trump-appointed chairman Ajit Pai, voted to repeal net neutrality in 2018. This set off a battle among those in favor of the rules, and those happy about the FCC's actions. Net neutrality became a political football and was seen as just another legacy of the Obama years that was overturned by the Trump administration. A couple of states (Oregon and Washington) decided to pass legislation making net neutrality the law in those states. California's law became a big deal and a sign of the overall support in the country for net neutrality; no sooner did Governor Jerry Brown place his signature on the bill than the Trump administration sued to prevent it from becoming law.

Court orders FCC to consider public safety concerns that have come about because of its repeal


In an attempt to overturn the FCC's repeal of net neutrality, the attorneys general of 22 states and the District of Columbia filed a suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in August 2018. Today, as reported by CNET, the court returned a split decision that upheld the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality. However, the court's ruling also allows states to legislate the issue on their own. And part of the order will be remanded back to the FCC. The court ordered the regulatory agency to consider how public safety could be impacted by its ruling to repeal net neutrality. As you might expect, FCC chairman Pai crowed about the ruling and called it a "victory for consumers, broadband deployment, and the free and open Internet."


In April of this year, the House of Representatives, now controlled by Democrats, passed a bill to make Net Neutrality federal law (the vote count was 232-190). But the bill was DOA in the Senate where the Republicans enjoy a healthy majority. As he has done with other key bills dealing with hot button topics like protecting U.S. elections from foreign manipulation and gun safety, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) blocked the net neutrality bill from making it from the House to the floor of the Senate.


There have been some strange incidents surrounding the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality. During the public comment period, the FCC was innundated by fake responses from Russians giving support to the FCC's actions. These comments used stolen identities to appear as though they came from U.S. citizens and last December even FCC Chairman Pai admitted that the Russians tried to interfere in the issue.

Net neutrality would have prevented Verizon from throttling an account belonging to the firefighters in Santa Clara County, California last year. The account's download data speed dropped from approximately 50Mbps to about 30kbps right as the fire department was battling the wildfires in the state. The fire department was forced to pay more for a higher tiered Verizon plan in order to get its service running at full-speed. The carrier has since taken steps to prevent this issue from happening again. But this is exactly the type of public safety concern that the court wants the FCC to examine in connection with its repeal of net neutrality. Will the FCC even consider public safety concerns and reverse its repeal? Under Ajit Pai's reign, don't count on it.

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9 Comments

1. emvxl

Posts: 141; Member since: Sep 29, 2009

This should be interesting - I can see the FCC suing every state that enacts their own net neutrality legislation.

2. MsPooks

Posts: 150; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

I'm still waiting for the sky to fall since the repeal.

3. TBomb

Posts: 1551; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

The sky will not fall... but it could very well be lowered.

4. MsPooks

Posts: 150; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

It's been raised for me, so...still waiting.

7. tuminatr

Posts: 1141; Member since: Feb 23, 2009

I am in the same boat, and have not noticed a difference either way

5. bigstrudel

Posts: 604; Member since: Aug 20, 2012

Sky didn’t fall chicken little. The internet didn’t develop pay lanes before “Net Neutrality”. This is government meddling in yet another private industry which will cause costs to rise for all of us in the guise of your defense. Actually the government just wants to create more bureaucracy.

6. tedkord

Posts: 17391; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

As a matter of fact, it did develop pay lanes. ISPs were charging streaming services like Netflix for priority (while giving their own services priority for free). Net Neutrality was and is a good thing.

8. tuminatr

Posts: 1141; Member since: Feb 23, 2009

But when NN was put in place Netflix pricing did not go down. So essentially all it did was increase Netflix profits with no benefits to the end consumer.

9. true1984

Posts: 869; Member since: May 23, 2012

no they did not. they(Verizon and Comcast) offered to do it for netflix, but stated that they would not do it for free. the separate lave was something netflix wanted, but they didnt want to pay for it. thats how the whole thing started.

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