There May Be Hope For Internet Freedom – Court Rules Against FCC

Posted by Jason | Posted in Government, Technology | Posted on 06-04-2010

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Today, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals actually stood up for the free market and property rights. Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come.

The DC circuit Court of Appeals gave the Obama administration a big dash of cold water on the limits of its authority to impose rules on communications networks today. In essence, the court recognized Comcast’s property rights to determine its own terms of service for Internet use, and the implications could affect Barack Obama’s plans to mandate broadband expansion as well:

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their networks.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is a big victory for Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable company. It had challenged the FCC’s authority to impose so-called “net neutrality” obligations on broadband providers. …

The decision also has serious implications for the massive national broadband plan released by the FCC last month. The FCC needs clear authority to regulate broadband in order to push ahead with some its key recommendations, including a proposal to expand broadband by tapping the federal fund that subsidizes telephone service in poor and rural communities.

via Hot Air » Blog Archive » Breaking: Appeals court rejects FCC authority for Net Neutrality.

Net neutrality is a governmental trojan horse to take control of the internet. This is a win for the good guys. For those of you who may have missed my blog on why net neutrality is a bad idea, you can read it here.

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Comments (4)

Don’t get ahead of yourself Jason. This result doesn’t end the net neutrality debate or anything. All the court did was rule the FCC didn’t have the authority to penalize Comcast for their p2p packet throttling.

I expect some enterprising politicians will latch on to this decision and use it to spearhead some legislation that either deals directly with this so-called “problem” or at a minimum gives the FCC the power to regulate what these ISPs do with their networks.

Now, I doubt this would be as big an issue if Comcast had plainly stated in their service agreement that they reserve the right to screw with your connection at their leisure (after all, it is their business to conduct as they see fit). And, if there were viable competitors to cable in terms of reliability and speed (other than FiOS, there is none), it’s doubtful Comcast would have even tried this little experiment. If you go and look back, the places where these experiments were run were primarily in locals with no real competitors, minimizing customer turnover.

Competition is a problem that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. Verizon is still laying down fiber in the low-hanging fruit areas so it will be years (if it ever makes enough sense) for them to lay down fiber across the country and really provide some competition to the cable co’s. They appear to be the only company willing to jump into the fray, especially given the amount of capital necessary to invest in such a venture.

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John,

I know it’s just a temporary set back for a tyrannical gov’t. Was just exciting to see some court come down in the right direction.

I’m no defender of comcast. I had them and dropped them, because they try to rape you if you don’t buy all their services. They are also complete idiots when you try canceling. I just dropped the Dish for TV, and they were super nice about it. Who do you think I’ll go back to if I want cable channels again? That’s why competition works. It punishes the companies who deliver a worse product of service.

As far as competition, there is only going to be a competitor if there is enough profit to make it worth the investment. If there isn’t and Comcast is the only provider, then there is a reason they are the only provider. They had a competitive advantage, and you choice then is to use them or not. There are always other options though, but they wouldn’t be as good as Comcast (satellite, DSL if close enough, cellular). Since they aren’t as good of an option, Comcast is then the best option, and people choose them. That is not Comcast’s fault. If Comcast keeps their crap up though, and there are enough people saying to hell with them, then a competitor will have to opportunity at a bigger market making it more likely to invest.

The free market always works best. No one said things will be perfect all the time, and every company is awesome. The problem is if gov’t gets involved and sets standards, you just lost a whole bunch of options. There will be so much cost built in that companies won’t be able to justify some future investments because they now have to make X + cost of regulation instead of just X.

Alright John, good comment. My balloon has been popped and now I’m back to my government loathing self.

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We agree RE: competition. If a company can’t make a buck selling a service, they won’t. Here’s where the issue gets muddy. Taxpayer-funded subsidies were given to the cable co’s of old to lay down the existing coax infrastructure. Now we allow those companies a natural monopoly over selling the service. Is that proper?

Should we break up that monopoly and force those incumbent companies to open up their infrastructure to all competitors like we have with mobile phone co’s? Verizon is choosing to provide their own fiber infrastructure, superior to coax, but at a tremendous capital investment, one that will take years to reach to most parts of the country.

What do you think?

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I think the sooner you get the gov’t out the better. Comcast may have a monopoly on that line, that should have never been subsidized, but they do not have a monopoly on TV, cable or phone services. They could never hold a monopoly over the long term in areas where there may not yet be competitors, for technology is driving the cost down, and it won’t be long until there are competitors.

The longer that gov’t intervention is rationalized the worse things get and the longer it will be before we ever have a free market. The gov’t would never “break” this “monopoly” fairly. It’s decisions are always based on politics and bribes.

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