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FCC Wins Latest Round on Net Neutrality

U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has voted to uphold a series of strict new rules for internet providers

WASHINGTON�U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has voted to uphold a series�of strict new rules for internet providers, providing a victory to regulators�in the fight overnet neutrality.

The 2-1 court ruling�Tuesdayforces�Internet Service Providers, like Verizon and Comcast, to�operate by�federal�regulations that ban the blocking or slowing of Internet traffic to consumers. The Federal Communications Commission rules also forbid carriers from selectively speeding up websites that agree to pay the providers a fee � a tactic critics have said could �unfairly tilt the commercial playing field against startups and innovators who may not be able to afford it,�according to the Washington Post.�

The decision affirms�Washington’s�ability to regulate internet�providers in the same way they legacy telephone companies. The move by the FCC�to �reclassify� internet providers significantly expanded the agency’s role in overseeing�the industry. It also opened up internet providers to new obligations they were not subject to before, such as privacy�requirements�that all telecom companies currently follow in order to protect consumers’ personal data.

Consumer advocates lauded the landmark ruling � marking the�third time the FCC has gone to court to defend its net neutrality rules � as a �decisive outcome in a years-long battle over the future of the internet.�

�Today�s ruling is a victory for consumers and innovators who deserve unfettered access to the entire web, and it ensures the internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth,� FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement.

The large ISPs must now decide whether or not to escalate the court battle. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, a group that also challenged the FCC rules, said it was �considering its options in light of the decision,� according to the same article.

ISPs could next request a re-hearing at the D.C. Circuit � but some carriers are considering� �going�further. �We have always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court, and we look forward to participating in that appeal,� said AT&T general counsel David McAtee.