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How Long Before Net Neutrality Ends Up in Court?

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on September 21, 2009

I am not a lawyer, nor am I a Federal Communications Commission expert. But I can confidently predict that once the network neutrality rules proposed today by FCC chairman Julius Genachowski are adopted—and they will be, since all three Democratic commissioners have expressed support—telecom companies will sue to overturn them.

The prediction is fairly easy because the regulated companies sue every time the FCC attempts to extend its jurisdiction without explicit congressional authorization—and most of the time they win. The four neutrality principles adopted in 2006 have stood up, but the first time the commission brought an enforcement action based on them, the target, Comcast, sued. The case is pending in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The original four principles and the two additions proposed by Genachowski strike me as eminently reasonable, but the standard in court is the letter of legislation, not sensibility. The provision that is most likely to draw litigation is the proposal to extend the principles to wireless Internet carriers, which until now have regarded themselves as exempt for net neutrality requirements.

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Reader Comments


September 24, 2009 04:01 AM

I suggest Honorable Julius Genachowski Chairman FCC should be conveyed to ITU Geneva Telecom2009 Oct.05, 2009 and be discussed at the Forum, with the stake holders. The network netrality rules proposed should be universally adopted, and debated at the ITU, to the digital divide world of have nots to follow the reccomendations of "network neutrality rules".

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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