On Monday, July 2, telecommunications giant Verizon Communications filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia challenging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s right to mandate “net neutrality” behavior on the Internet.
Verizon claimed that the FCC isn’t allowed to rule on the Internet as it is an “information” service and not a “telecommunications” service. As a result, claims by the FCC that it has such power are unconstitutional and violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.
The new rules were created by the FCC following its loss in the Comcast case back in April 2010, when the same court ruled that the FCC did not have authority over Comcast’s Internet service, and censured the FCC over its bogus claim of authority.
The FCC claims that it is just doing its job by monitoring behavior of Internet service providers (ISPs) to keep them from charging fees based upon various levels, or "tiers," of service. But such monitoring is not only illegal, claims Verizon, but unnecessary. Proponents of the FCC position are nervous that a big ISP like Verizon might use its market power to restrict or slow down access to competitors using its networks in order to favor its own. For example, Verizon offers an Internet streaming service, Xfinity, which competes with Netflix, and so net-neutrality proponents are nervous that Verizon will unfairly restrict Netflix users, forcing them to switch to Xfinity instead. The fact that there is no proof of such discrimination doesn’t matter to the FCC: Verizon might, and that’s enough for them.
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