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What we have learned from the great judicial day of net neutrality



Over five hours in a courtroom in Washington, DC, today a coalition of net neutrality defenders sat down with the Federal Communications Commission as both sides spoke out for and against Internet regulations.

The dispute is one of the most well-known disputes in the history of the Internet, but there was no immediate indication of how the three judges who supervised the case would decide. Both sides alternately faced sharp questions from the judges of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The petitioners argued that the suspension of the FCC was unlawful in several respects. The FCC failed in its analysis of the Internet services market, did not consider public security, did not prevent states from adopting its own net neutrality rules, and they made a mistake in determining what a telecommunications service is you.

Some of these hits seemed to land, while others fell flat. The FCC changed the legal classification of broadband service when it lifted the rules, and this decision is a crucial issue. However, it was hard to see if the judges there were influenced by the arguments. The analogies to explain the different types of Internet services became more complex: did the FCC treat the Internet like a pizza if it was more like a pizza delivery service? asked a lawyer for the petitioners. And was modern internet service more like Uber Eats?

However, the public safety argument seemed to be an important point in the hearing. The FCC received a sharp interrogation from one of the judges who repeatedly asked how the agency's decision could affect first responders. The Santa Clara district, which appeared in court to defend the rules of net neutrality, noted that the repeal may not be enough to resolve a crisis. (Last year, the county made headlines about a throttling incident during a wildfire in California.)

When someone is strangled in a crisis, the court noted that it matters little if someone is punished later. "Post hoc remedies do not work in the area of ​​public safety, and if I did not fail, they were not addressed in any order," the judge said.

At the hearing, the FCC emphasized that net neutrality rules have hurt broadband investment and that deportation has improved the market, an analysis which the petitioners emphatically reject. A lawyer representing Internet service providers also argued that there was not enough evidence of throttling and blocking to show that the rules of net neutrality were necessary. The Agency has repeatedly argued that its transparency requirements are an effective means of protecting consumers.

The court could be bound to the case for a long time. Even though its participants used the language of a highly technical litigation, the attack was one of the most dramatic moments in the struggle for net neutrality.

"Today, we fought for an open and free Internet that puts consumers first," said Mozilla's Chief Operating Officer, Denelle Dixon, in a statement. "Mozilla has accepted this challenge because we believe the FCC must follow the rules like everyone else." The FCC, the statement said, has decided "to renounce its responsibility to protect consumers on a whim."

"The US Supreme The Court has already reaffirmed the FCC's authority to classify broadband as Title I information service," said Matthew Berry, FCC Chief of Staff, "and according to today's argument, we continue to believe that the judiciary's decision The FCC will back it up The legal framework under which the Internet prospered before 201

5 and continues to flourish to this day. "

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who voted against the decision to lift the net neutrality rules, said in a tweet that there was one "There is no lack of complex issues in the oral argument", but that "the court now has a chance to correct what the FCC did wrong." "Me "I'm hopeful."

Update, 16:52 ET: Contains a statement from the FCC.


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