Possible Implications for DC Courts Upcoming Ruling on Net Neutrality

Thursday morning FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai reiterated the significance of the upcoming decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, on whether or not to uphold the current net neutrality regulations. The FCC believes the court will uphold the current regulations because of the authority given to them in Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, however Verizon, the plaintiff in the upcoming case, believes no such authority exists. Verizon has asked the court to overturn the regulations on the grounds that they are, “arbitrary and capricious.”

According to the commissioner, if the court upholds the order, the FCC will continue to expand its efforts to regulate the internet. Specifically Pai states, “I would not be surprised if the FCC looked into whether we should stiffen our oversight of the network management practices and whether we should begin to regulate usage-based pricing.”

Even if the court upholds the regulations, which is unlikely as the D.C. Circut Court of Appeals has already ruled in a prior net neutrality challenge that Section 706 did not grant the FCC legal authority to regulate the Net, this does not mean that the FCC has been given a clear mandate by the court to increase its regulatory powers. As pointed out by Kathy Brown, Senior Vice President of Public Policy Development & Corporate Responsibility, the last time Telecom issues were revised by Congress the discussion was centered around long distance. The industry has come so far since then, however courts are still forced to make their rulings on out of date legislation.

What is truly necessary, in order for the FCC to recognize the burdensome implications of the imposed government regulations, is for Congress to efficiently revise the outdated Telecom legislation in order to support a free and open internet.