Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Appeals court upholds FCC's repeal of internet neutrality, but opens the door to state and local regulations

A federal appeals court upheld the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of Obama-era net-neutrality protections, but said the agency can't keep state governments from passing their own neutrality rules.

"The agency had attempted to do so through a 'preemption directive' included in the text of its 2018 Restoring Internet Freedom Order, but hadn’t properly explained how state laws would undermine it," Dell Cameron reports for Gizmodo.

The ruling will likely "embolden some states and local governments to pursue their own regulations. California, a trendsetter in Internet policy, adopted its own rules last year, though they were quickly challenged by the Justice Department and have not yet been enforced," Tony Romm reports for The Washington Post. "In doing so, the ruling threatened to spell even more legal wrangling at the FCC, which must reconsider elements of its net neutrality repeal, and in the court system, where the federal agency may still retain the ability to challenge states that adopt open-Internet rules, officials there signaled Tuesday."

As it stands now, legal and legislative fighting over net neutrality could go on for years; since the president appoints FCC commissioners, the outcome of the 2020 election could have an outsized impact on the issue in years to come, Romm writes.

UPDATE, Oct. 9: Caitlin Chin of the Brookings Institution looks ahead.

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