Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Internet Neutrality the FCC and Broadband

The DC Appeals Court today ruled on the Comcast case regarding the FCC and Net Neutrality. Basically they affirmed what we have been saying all along, namely the FCC has no authority.

The Court states:

Through the Communications Act of 1934, ch. 652, 48 Stat. 1064, as amended over the decades, 47 U.S.C. § 151 et seq., Congress has given the Commission express and expansive authority to regulate common carrier services, including landline telephony, id. § 201 et seq. (Title II of theAct); radio transmissions, including broadcast television, radio, and cellular telephony, id. § 301 et seq. (Title III); and “cable services,” including cable television, id. § 521 et seq. (Title VI). In this case, the Commission does not claim that Congress has given it express authority to regulate Comcast’s Internet service. Indeed, in its still-binding 2002 Cable Modem Order, the Commission ruled that cable Internet service is neither a “telecommunications service” covered by Title II of the Communications Act nor a “cable service” covered by Title VI. In re High-Speed Access to the Internet Over Cable and Other Facilities, 17 F.C.C.R. 4798, 4802

Simply put the FCC has no authority and this will naturally extend to the entire Broadband domain. One would have thought that Harvard Law graduates would have had some exposure to the law.

We argued this position in a paper we wrote on Internet Neutrality almost five years ago. There we stated that the FCC had no statutory standing and that the grounds for Internet Neutrality as we defined it was based in common law principles. Simply that if I were to enter into an agreement with say Comcast to have them carry my bits from A to B then they could charge whatever and deal with the bits in any manner as long as it was not discriminatory to me or the other parties. If they agreement states that they will deal with streaming video in a certain manner, and do so for all streaming video, then that is what I buy. Simple.

The Comcast case does no deal with that discrimination.