Administrative Law

Comcast Scores Against FCC in Court Battle Over Net Neutrality

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The Federal Communications Commission was on the hot seat today in a much-watched appellate court case implicating the agency’s power to regulate the Internet.

Comcast Corp. is appealing a 2008 decision by the FCC that it violates so-called net neutrality standards by slowing or blocking certain peer-to-peer applications that use up a disproportionate amount of its bandwidth. And a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., appeared sympathetic to the company’s position as it grilled FCC General Counsel Austin Schlick, reports the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

“You have yet to identify a specific statute,” said Judge A. Raymond Randolph in response to arguments by the agency that its policy statements authorized the FCC to require Comcast to offer all of its customers equal access to the Internet.

The outcome of the case may affect ongoing rule-making efforts by the FCC concerning Internet access.

Additional coverage: “FCC to Promote Net Neutrality, Set New Rules”

Law & Disorder (Ars Technica): “Skeptical judges ask FCC if Comcast P2P smackdown was legal”

Threat Level (Wired): “Court to FCC: You Don’t Have Power to Enforce Net Neutrality”

Updated at 5:52 p.m. to link to Ars Technica blog post.

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