Federal judges may be ready to rule against Net neutrality

A panel in a federal court indicates it may strike down part of the law that stops ISPs from discriminating against certain Web sites.

Net neutrality, at least in part, may be in trouble.

The Hill reports that judges in a federal court seemed unconvinced Monday of the Federal Communications Commission's arguments regarding the regulations during a landmark case involving Verizon.

Net neutrality refers to an Internet service provider's inability to discriminate against certain Web sites, a rule currently imposed by the FCC. This means that an ISP like Verizon can't charge Web sites such as Google or Netflix more for priority access to users.

Two out of three judges on a panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals indicated that they agree with Verizon's position that the FCC doesn't have the authority to make the restriction, according to the article.

The argument for Net neutrality stems from the idea that every Web site deserves a level playing field, and that discrimination among sites could stop the next big online service from ever gaining traction. The Obama administration has been a big supporter, and the FCC believes its authority comes from the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the Communications Act of 1934. Opponents, many of which are congressional Republicans, argue that Net neutrality is unnecessary government involvement.

If the rules are overturned, Helgi Walker, Verizon's attorney, told judges that the company will consider charging certain Web companies for faster service.

About the author

Richard Nieva is a staff writer for CNET. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times and on CJR.org.


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