Court Rules Against Open Internet, Strikes Down Net Neutrality

Will the Internet start to look more like cable TV? That's what advocates are afraid of. Here's why.

By Jamilah King Jan 14, 2014

So much for an open Internet. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled against the Federal Communications Commisssion’s (FCC) mandates that internet service providers treat all online traffic equally. The FCC had originally voted in favor of these rules, known as net neutrality, back in 2010.

From USA Today:

Supporters of Net Neutrality took some good away from the decision, noting that it established the FCC’s power to create Internet rules. "In some respects, no one got what they wanted out of this decision, and confusion over the proper role of the FCC is greater than ever," said Public Knowledge senior vice president Harold Feld in a statement. The consumer interest group intervened on the FCC’s side in the case.

Still, open Internet advocates lamented the court’s decision a step toward turning the internet into a pay-for-play model like cable television. It should also be pointed out that the FCC’s original deicision back in 2010 wasn’t perfect becaue it was largely silent on mobile web traffic, which is fast becoming the way that most users get online. But it was something.

"The compromised Open Internet Order struck down today left much to be desired, but it was a step toward maintaining Internet users’ freedom to go where they wanted, when they wanted, and communicate freely online," said Craig Aaron, CEO and President of Free Press, in a press release issued Tuesday. "Now, just as Verizon promised it would in court, the biggest broadband providers will race to turn the open and vibrant Web into something that looks like cable TV. They’ll establish fast lanes for the few giant companies that can afford to pay exorbitant tolls and reserve the slow lanes for everyone else."