Week in review: Net neutrality neutered?

FCC regulation gets a court correction, while Apple dials up iPhone OS update. Also: Microsoft's mystery event revealed.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
Expertise I have more than 30 years' experience in journalism in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
Steven Musil
3 min read

An appeals court decision may leave many wondering whether an open Internet's days are numbered.

The Federal Communications Commission does not have the legal authority to slap Net neutrality regulations on Internet providers, a federal appeals court ruled this week. The three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. unanimously tossed out the FCC's August 2008 cease-and-desist order against cable and ISP giant Comcast, which had taken measures to slow BitTorrent transfers before voluntarily ending them earlier that year.

The decision could also doom one of the signature initiatives of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Last October, Genachowski announced plans to begin drafting a formal set of Net neutrality rules--even though Congress has not given the agency permission to do so.

While the recent court ruling has indeed cleared Comcast's name, some consumer advocates say the consequence of this ruling is that it has also stripped the FCC of its power to enforce basic Internet openness principles. These advocates are calling for new laws and regulations that will protect the Net.

But the ruling, which is still being examined by lawyers on both sides of the debate, may not cause as much damage as some people fear. To get the low-down on how this court decision will affect the FCC, broadband Internet service providers, and consumers, check out this FAQ.
•  FCC pushes forward with broadband agenda

More headlines

Scenes from the iPhone 4.0 event (photos)

See all photos

Apple's iPhone OS 4.0 delivers multitasking

Apple's newest mobile OS will arrive this summer with true multitasking and better options for organizing the phone, as well as an interesting mobile-advertising platform.
•  Apple strikes back at Google with iAd

iPad: An Apple launch that thought differently

Many of Apple's most loyal fans thought the iPad would be underwhelming, and yet they still flocked to stores on opening weekend to pick it up--once they'd seen that the masses were springing for it.
•  iPad: New must-have celeb accessory?
•  iPad sold out at Best Buy nationwide
•  iPad, tablets expected to dampen Netbook sales
•  Apple's free pass with the iPad
•  'I'm a Mac/I'm a PC' ads coming to an end?

Wikileaks releases video of Iraq journalist shooting

Anti-secrecy activists release video showing Reuters journalists being shot by Apache gunship, which may call into question the U.S. military's official account.

Microsoft's mystery event revealed

The software maker is expected to use the April 12 event to announce its two consumer-oriented messaging phones targeting the uber-connected.
•  Parallels unveils Windows 7 upgrade tool
•  More details on Microsoft's free Office

Google trying anew for a 3D Web

Google's O3D browser plug-in for accelerated 3D graphics on the Web shows no signs of life. But a similar idea, rebuilt with standard technology, looks to be its replacement.
•  Google's search for the perfect learning machine

Study: Your kids will use touch screens in 2015

The iPad has been out for just days, but already it's triggered a trend that could significantly change the computing landscape: touch screens will be widely used in 2015.
•  HP Slate pricing, specs reportedly revealed

Report: India targeted by spy network

Targeted attacks, social networks, and malicious PDFs found in spy network that researchers say has links to China.
•  Vietnam denies involvement with cyberattacks

The cloud--it's not for control freaks

Microsoft's Chris Capossela says big businesses are seeing lots of benefits by using cloud computing to do work traditionally done in-house. They're also grappling with the resulting loss of control.
•  Survey: Cloud computing risks outweigh reward
•  The changing face of private cloud

Long delay expected for Intel support of USB 3.0

Consumers may have a long wait for faster USB technology in mainstream PCs because of a lack of direct support from Intel.

Also of note

•  U.K. embraces 'three strikes' for illegal file sharing
•  Crowdsourcing start-up aims to change the world
•  HP research could yield faster, more powerful PCs