Net Neutrality Dealt A Severe Blow As Comcast Wins FCC Appeal

Comcast customers have reason to be nervous today, as a federal appeals court rules that the Federal Communications Commission doesn't have the authority to enforce Net Neutrality on internet providers.

The FCC wants everyone to have a similar internet experience, without having access to legal content blocked by internet access providers. This is the basis for Net Neutrality, and internet users are generally big fans of the concept.

Comcast, on the other hand, isn't a big fan, and when the FCC banned the company from blocking broadband customers from using BitTorrent back in 2008, they took the issue to court. One of Comcast's main reasons for wanting to block access to BitTorrent was that their pipeline wasn't created with users spending all day downloading several gigabytes of torrent files. I suppose I can see where they are coming from, and that's why the 250GB usage cap the company puts on regular customers was put in place.

With today's ruling against the FCC, Comcast is again free to ban access to BitTorrent if they so wish, but such a move could definitely cost them customers. As a Comcast subscriber, I'm not particularly worried about having the service banned any time soon.

What does worry me, however, is that the ruling deals a serious blow to the FCC's efforts to expand broadband on a national level. Without the authority to regular internet providers, the commission's proposed plan to enhance internet access for everyone is in danger of failing.

So once again a giant corporation gets in the way of the government's attempts at actually doing something the people would like. This is why we can't have nice things.

US court rules against FCC on `net neutrality' [Yahoo!]


Comments

    I have to say I find this fairly ironic, given the current climate of Australian broadband service, by comparison. Here, we have the government trying to block things, a process that will slow down general browsing significantly. Comcast, on the other hand, is blocking the service that many (most?) people with high-quota and high-speed service use that justifies paying for a high-quota high-speed service!

    I've thought about this before, and have concluded that the infrastructure network hardware needs to be, by and large, publicly owned (ie. by the government like roads are) but and the access to these roads can be bought in different flavours from different retailers (sort of the way electricity works... sort of). That way ComCast can have its slice of the American broadband network configured any way they like, and offer a faster service with no BitTorrenting; CleanFeed Inc can have a ISP-level filter on their section of the network, and whoever else can run an open, unfiltered network (with all the benefits and risks that entails).

    The idea of 'Internet' is larger than any corporation, and the biggest thing we have that can help preserve that idea is government--and in the US at least it seems like the Second Amendment is helping them do that. So, there really ought to be a way for that government to preserve the idea of 'Internet' without actually preventing someone like Comcast from selling a service that is LIKE Internet, but not exactly, without forcing anyone in particular to use that service if they would rather something different. I don't think it harms the neutrality of the Internet to have an ISP blocking particular services, but there HAS to be healthy enough competition so that anyone in any area of the affected country can choose a different service. We can't have the Telstra situation that exists in Australia where the major wholeseller of Internet and the owner of the network infrastructure is also a retailer in its own right, meaning anything Telstra does at a network level affects anyone who happens to buy access supplied to the retailer by Telstra.

    Government ensuring the same Net experience for everyone amounts to socialised Internet access, which I find personally very attractive. But this doesn't need to be forced on everyone for it to be available.

    Mike I could not disagree more vehemently. Net neutrality is fools gold. It will end up breaking the interwebs will foolish concept like not allowing ISPs to allocate QoS wheresoever they and their customers please. Bye bye Youtube and dedicated gaming QoS.

    I have to agree with Ben here, regulated net neutrality will only result in bad unintended consequences, because once it gets put into law "you must not treat any traffic differently" then the lobbyists get to work and it becomes "you must not treat any traffic differently except..."

    The problem in the Comcast case, is the consumer simply does not have the choice of provider. Either they use ComCast for their broadband, or they go back to dialup. Therefore the problem isn't a lack of net neutrality laws, but a lack of competition in the marketplace.

    Wait.. the dumbass Americans actually do want their net to get blocked and banned etc.??????

    Huh? did I miss something here?

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