Verizon Communications has won its challenge to U.S. open-Internet regulations as an appeals court ruled against the Federal Communications Commission, saying the agency’s restrictions have no basis in federal law.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington today sent the rules back to the FCC, which may attempt to rewrite the regulations that bar companies from slowing or blocking some Internet traffic.
The FCC is trying to regulate Verizon and other companies that supply broadband Internet service under a statute that doesn’t apply, according to Circuit Judge David Tatel, writing for a three-judge panel.
“Given that the commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the commission from nonetheless regulating them as such,” Tatel wrote.
The FCC rule required companies that provide businesses and consumers high-speed Internet service over wires to treat all traffic equally. With the regulation voided, companies such as Google and Amazon.com could face new charges for fast connections.
The ruling could set the stage for a contentious bid by the FCC to try again to write rules, this time relying on a part of the law written decades ago to regulate monopoly telephone service.
Justin Cole, a spokesman for the FCC, didn’t have an immediate comment and said the agency would issue a statement.
The case is Verizon v. FCC, 11-1355, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (Washington).