Yesterday’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in Verizon v. FCC offers encouragement, though not complete reassurance, that the legislative branch’s authority over a sweeping telecommunications policy has been reaffirmed. On one hand, the Court wisely struck down “net neutrality” rules that the FCC adopted in 2010 without the consent of Congress, saying that the “agency overreached in barring broadband providers from slowing or blocking selected Web traffic.”
These rules sought to regulate Internet service providers to prevent the discriminatory delivery of broadband. My colleague, Pete Sepp, weighed in on the FCC’s rulemaking process in 2010 when he called network neutrality “a hostile government takeover of the Internet, and with it bureaucratic micromanagement.” Preventing the FCC from excessively regulating in this area is a win for limited government.
Still, the Court’s ruling wasn’t all good news. It also opened the door for FCC regulation of the Internet by asserting that it has jurisdiction over broadband access, though Congress has never granted it such. Plus, the FCC may consider an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. All of this means taxpayers will have to remain vigilant to ensure that the Internet remains a vibrant medium for commerce and information sharing.