Internet providers could face a variety of state internet regulations after a USA court ruled on Tuesday that the federal government cannot block states from passing their own net neutrality laws, while largely upholding the 2017 repeal of landmark rules barring providers from blocking or throttling traffic. The agency imposed clear rules banning the blocking, throttling or accelerating of Web content by internet providers and reserved the right to investigate business practices that risked violating the spirit of net neutrality. The appeals court's mixed verdict strikes down the government's ability to provide overarching rules on net neutrality, leaving the telcos, cablecos and lobbyists to direct their attention and political pressure to states and local municipalities.
The split decision for the Commission in MOZILLA CORPORATION v. FCC follows last week's loss on the ownership rule revisions issue in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. California's, however, is the most far-reaching and has the potential to affect the industry given the state's size and its role as the home of the tech industry.
The ruling was largely seen as a victory for President Trump and his hand-picked FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, who repealed the net-neutrality rules on a party-line vote in 2017.
But the court also found the agency "failed to examine the implications of its decisions for public safety" and must also review how its decision will impact a government subsidy program for low-income users.
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California's law prohibits broadband providers operating in the state from blocking or throttling traffic and from charging companies higher fees for prioritized delivery.
On Tuesday, Markey said the Tuesday decision from the Court of Appeals "leaves the future of a free and open internet in question" before calling for the Senate to take up the Save the Internet Act. "Support for a free and open internet is through the roof outside of Washington".
Pai said the agency will address the "narrow issues" cited by the court.
But the appellate panel vacated the portion of the order that blocked states from passing or enforcing their own broadband laws. "Let's keep up the fight", Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic FCC commissioner, wrote on Twitter. Thanks to how the American political system works, individual States within America could potentially pass their own laws which would grant its residents access to a "neutral internet". While large ISPs (and the Pai FCC) have tried to frame the FCC's 2015 rules as hugely draconian and restrictive, in reality they were fairly modest by global standards.