US Appeals Court Refuses To Overturn Net Neutrality Ruling

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American court refuses to rehear an appeal against controversial FTC decision to reserve net neutrality rules in the United States

The US Appeals Court has ruled on Thursday that it will not reconsider a ruling made last October that largely upheld the repeal of landmark net neutrality rules.

In February 2019 the US federal appeals court had begun hearing oral arguments on the Trump administration’s controversial decision to roll-back net neutrality laws in the United States made in 2017.

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) had been facing tough questions over its decision to overturn the Obama-era rules, and faced a legal challenge in the US federal court system from a number of US states.

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Net neutrality

A group of 22 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia had asked the appeals court to reinstate the rules, as well as to block the FCC’s effort to pre-empt states from imposing their own rules guaranteeing an open internet.

Mozilla and other tech groups were also part of the court case.

But in October the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued its mixed ruling on the matter.

It largely upheld the FCC repeal of the net neutrality law, which prevented ISPs in the US from blocking or throttling traffic.

But significantly, the appeals court also ruled that the FCC had overstepped its legal authority when it declared that US states cannot pass their own net neutrality laws.

Rejected appeal

And now Reuters has reported that on Thursday this week that the full US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia declined (without comment) to rehear the decision it reached in October.

“The internet has remained free and open, consumers have been protected, speeds have increased, and more and more Americans have gotten access to broadband,” a spokeswoman for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, was quoted as saying.

She added that Pai was pleased with the decision.

Pai had been appointed by US President Donald Trump and had long campaigned against the rules that prevented ISPs from slowing or throttling internet speeds for some people.

The US Appeals Court ruling came after petitions in December from the Computer & Communications Industry Association, internet trade group INCOMPAS, and various advocacy groups – all of whom had asked for the rehearing.

They had been joined by US states that had also challenged the decision.

US States

A number of the groups, including Mozilla which had fought against the net neutrality repeal by the FCC, have stated they will consider their next steps.

California is one of the US states that has already adopted sweeping state net neutrality protections, but it agreed not to enforce the measure pending the court challenge.

The Californian measure had been swiftly challenged by the US Justice Department, which quickly filed an injunction to stop the Californian law.

It now remains to be seen how quickly US states like California enforce its own net neutrality protections, and what steps the FCC will take if it does go down this route.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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