The DC circuit Court of Appeals gave the Obama administration a big dash of cold water on the limits of its authority to impose rules on communications networks today. In essence, the court recognized Comcast’s property rights to determine its own terms of service for Internet use, and the implications could affect Barack Obama’s plans to mandate broadband expansion as well (via Story Balloon):
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their networks.
The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is a big victory for Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable company. It had challenged the FCC’s authority to impose so-called “net neutrality” obligations on broadband providers. …
The decision also has serious implications for the massive national broadband plan released by the FCC last month. The FCC needs clear authority to regulate broadband in order to push ahead with some its key recommendations, including a proposal to expand broadband by tapping the federal fund that subsidizes telephone service in poor and rural communities.
The decision was unanimous