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Court's smackdown on net neutrality could hit you right in the pocket

Mark Sullivan | Jan. 16, 2014
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down most of the FCC's 2010 Open Internet Order on Tuesday, rejecting the FCC's power to impose and enforce network neutrality rules on Internet service providers (ISPs).

As ISPs begin setting up their Internet toll roads, it will become very clear why these companies should always have been classified by the courts as "common carrier" entities. Despite FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's comforting words about the future of net neutrality Tuesday, his deep telecom industry ties (he once led the wireless industry's trade group) make it hard to believe he will work very hard to reverse the huge victory the ISPs have won.

The Internet has become an essential service — every bit as much as roads and water — and it should be regulated as something like a public utility. With the circuit court's decision Tuesday, this "essential service" runs the risk of becoming increasingly subject to the caprice and profit motives of a few telecommunications companies. Nothing short of Congressional action will be able to reverse this course.


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