Net Neutrality Legal Summary | Basics of Court Group | April 18, 2016


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Net Neutrality Legal Summary

Net Neutrality Legal Summary

History of net neutrality legislation and court actions

Whilst net neutrality isn’t new, the idea of slowing down content is. In October 2007 Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider slowed down service for BitTorrent users by creating “reset packets.” The corporation and BitTorrent arranged a solution to the issue after complaints. In August 2008 the Federal Communications Commission ruled 3-2 against Comcast had illegally inhibited users of it’s high-speed broadband service so that everyone could have equal bandwidth.

In February 2014 the FCC announced a plans for new rules on net neutrality that would comply with previous court rulings1. One plan would for a two-lane system, the other would be to classify broadband as a telecommunication service and under the authority of Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. On April 13 2015 the FCC published the final rules and they took effect June 12, 20152 and the said the internet is a “common carrier” public utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

The Congress has tried several times to enact net neutrality into law. Starting with the “Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 20063” and most recently with the “Data Cap Integrity Act of 20124.” But most of these bills have either died in committee or were passed Senate and House committees but never made it to the floor of each respective chamber. The only one to reach the floor of the House was “Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Bill of 20065” and Data Cap Integrity Act of 2012, sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.

In September 2013 Verizon sued the FCC in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit6. In their decision, announced Jan. 15, 2014, the court said the FCC had stepped out of bounds but did say the FCC could levy stronger rules. The FCC has signaled it may allow broadband providers to charge for faster delivery to users. The ACLU7 says this will “effectively kill a major component of net neutrality.”

Internet Service Providers like AT&T and CenturyLink took the FCC back to court in October 2015.8 In the suit the petitioners weren’t opposed to net neutrality rules but said the new regulations are “arbitrary and capricious.”9 A ruling from the court is expected this year.

Here is a video from the Wall Street Journal explaining what’s at stake, and another on whether the internet is a public utility.


  1. Comcast v FCC, April 6, 2010.
  2. FCC, FCC-15-24, Released March 12, 2015.
  3. 3. 109th Congress, 2nd Session, S.2360, March 2, 2006.
  4. 4. 112th Congress, 2nd Session S.3704, Dec. 20, 2012.
  5. 5. 109th Congress, H.R. 5252, May 1, 2006.
  6. 6. Verizon v FCC, Sept. 9, 2013.
  7. 7. ACLU “What Is Net Neutrality?”
  8. 8. United States Telecom Association v FCC, Oct. 5, 2015.
  9. 9. NPR, “5 Things To Know: Net Neutrality Is Back In Court” Dec. 4, 2015.

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April 25, 2016

s 2360 s 3704 hr 5252 verizon comcast fcc net neutrality

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