Tuesday, June 14, 2016

USTA v FCC DC Cir June 14, 2016

TATEL and SRINIVASAN, Circuit Judges: For the third time in seven years, we confront an effort by the Federal Communications Commission to compel internet opennesscommonly known as net neutralitythe principle that broadband providers must treat all internet traffic the same regardless of source. In our first decision, Comcast Corp. v. FCC, 600 F.3d 642 (D.C. Cir. 2010), we held that the Commission had failed to cite any statutory authority that would justify its order compelling a broadband provider to adhere to certain open internet practices. In response, relying on section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Commission issued an order imposing transparency, anti- blocking, and anti-discrimination requirements on broadband providers. In our second opinion, Verizon v. FCC, 740 F.3d 623 (D.C. Cir. 2014), we held that section 706 gives the Commission authority to enact open internet rules. We nonetheless vacated the anti-blocking and anti-discrimination provisions because the Commission had chosen to classify broadband service as an information service under the Communications Act of 1934, which expressly prohibits the Commission from applying common carrier regulations to such services. The Commission then promulgated the order at issue in this casethe 2015 Open Internet Orderin which it reclassified broadband service as a telecommunications service, subject to common carrier regulation under Title II of the Communications Act. The Commission also exercised its statutory authority to forbear from applying many of Title II’s provisions to broadband service and promulgated five rules to promote internet openness. Three separate groups of petitioners, consisting primarily of broadband providers and their associations, challenge the Order, arguing that the Commission lacks statutory authority to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, that even if the Commission has such authority its decision was arbitrary and capricious, that the Commission impermissibly classified mobile broadband as a commercial mobile service, that the Commission impermissibly forbore from certain provisions of Title II, and that some of the rules violate the First Amendment. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we deny the petitions for review.


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