Verizon Continues To Challenge FCC Over Net Neutrality
September 16, 2013

Verizon Continues To Challenge FCC Over Net Neutrality

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

Net Neutrality is being debated once again in Washington as Verizon challenges regulations that prevent it favoring high paying customers. Earlier this month, the telecommunications carrier argued in court to be allowed to regulate for itself what is broadcast on its network and at what speed.

In 2010 the FCC approved the “Open Internet” rule, which prohibits corporations from determining what is allowed on the Internet. Verizon challenged this law last week and claimed congress never gave the FCC power to preside over its business. Should Verizon be allowed to give preferential treatment to certain customers, services such as Hulu or Netflix could potentially be crippled in favor of Verizon-owned entities.

"These rules provide an important safeguard both for innovation and investment on the Internet," said David Sohn, an attorney who works with the Center for Democracy and Technology in a statement to AFP's Rob Lever. "Every user every day benefits from this rule for the services they use, whether it's YouTube or Twitter or something else.”

Following Verizon’s court appearance last month, the debate over net neutrality and governmental regulation has risen to the surface once more. In 1996 an act was passed that recognized the Internet as a large, connected network rather than a service provided by individual “common carriers.” Therefore, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 holds that the FCC does not preside over Internet Service Providers (ISP) in the same way it would cell phone carriers.

Verizon argued this point in court and claimed the FCC cannot regulate how it acts as an ISP. Additionally, the FCC has already been struck down in the past for trying to uphold similar regulations against another ISP, Comcast. The ISP was found to be throttling Internet speeds to users who were stealing music from sites like BitTorrent. The FCC chastised the ISP for this behavior, but in 2010 the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found in Comcast’s favor, saying the FCC did not have the authority to determine how these corporations regulate what happens on their networks.

"It is not up to the FCC to decide these issues on its own,” said Helgi Walker, a Verizon lawyer in a statement before arguing the case in Court last week. "It has no implied authority, no express authority.. and it's highly unlikely that Congress would have delegated authority in such a convoluted way."

Though Verizon was most recent to debate the FCC over these regulations, it’s likely other ISPs are also in favor of having a tighter control of their networks. If given this control, ISPs would have the right to block certain customers from accessing portions of the Internet as was seen in the 2010 Comcast case. Debaters on the other side of this issue, however, claim too much regulation by the FCC could prevent innovation and growth by making it difficult to provide access and speed to the services that want it.