Oct 1, 2019

Appeals court largely upholds FCC on ending net neutrality

Rally organizers carry away props following a protest outside the Federal Communication Commission building against the end of net neutrality rules in December 2018. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In a complex ruling, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld the Federal Communications Commission's move to end net neutrality protections, but allowed states to set their own rules and sent portions of the original order back to the commission for clarification and review.

Why it matters: For a decade, net neutrality rules, which aim to prevent owners of internet networks from favoring some content and traffic, have been a lightning rod for conflict over internet governance. The new ruling means the FCC's 2017 removal of national net neutrality rules put in place by the Obama administration will stand, but opens the door to individual states mandating their own net neutrality protections.

What they're saying: FCC leadership and opponents of the original FCC order both claimed victory from the court's decision.

"Today’s decision is a victory for consumers, broadband deployment, and the free and open internet. The court affirmed the FCC’s decision to repeal 1930s utility-style regulation of the internet imposed by the prior administration. The court also upheld our robust transparency rule so that consumers can be fully informed about their online options."
— FCC chairman Ajit Pai
"The DC Circuit Court has spoken very clearly. The states are now free to do what the FCC will not — assert authority over the broadband market and protect an open Internet. Broadband providers will inevitably complain about having to comply with a so-called 'patchwork' of different state laws, but that is of their own making."
— Gigi Sohn, distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and former FCC senior counselor

What's next: The decision by a 3-judge panel could be appealed to the full Appeals Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Trump and FCC's Pai lunched after net neutrality decision

President Trump with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in April. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images


President Donald Trump and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had lunch at the White House the day the FCC won a major legal battle over its repeal of net neutrality regulations, according to two people familiar with the gathering.

Why it matters: Interactions between FCC leaders and the White House have drawn intense scrutiny because the FCC is an independent agency. Both people described the gathering as a "family" event.

Go deeperArrowOct 8, 2019

Where the net neutrality fight goes next

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Court rulings often bring clarity to thorny policy issues — but a mixed decision yesterday on the FCC’s handling of net neutrality rules only deepens a bitter internet policy debate that’s been raging in Washington for over a decade.

Why it matters: While the ruling allowed both sides to claim some level of victory, it also opens up 50 potential new fights over state rules.

Go deeperArrowOct 2, 2019

FCC to vote on barring subsidies for Huawei, ZTE equipment

Photo: Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images

The FCC will vote next month to ban companies from using federal telecom subsidies to purchase communications equipment from Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE.

Driving the news: The FCC’s order, to be voted on at the commission’s Nov. 19 meeting, would bar companies that receive funding from the $8.5 billion Universal Service Fund from using it to purchase equipment or services from suppliers deemed to pose a national security risk.

Go deeperArrowOct 28, 2019