In what some consider a surprise decision (fortunately, Trump’s recent appointee removed himself from the decision, as did Chief Justice Roberts due to conflicts,) Net Neutrality (NN) lives. Not because they made a decision, but because of what ruled, in 2015, by the DC District Court. The Supreme Court simply refused to hear the case brought by the telcos and the present administration.
I believe that to be a smart decision by the court. Whether one wants to claim political bias in the original NN policy or not, the fact remains that providers of various services, including the telcos, Internet service providers (ISPs), social media companies, content providers and others have a long history of “cheating” the consumer.
It is ludicrous to think that allowing the (ISP) wolves to guard the henhouse would be in the best interests of the general public. And in their own way, the Supreme Court seems to agree. By not hearing the case, they left the classification of ISPs the same as telephony providers, retaining the regulations to control their ability to manipulate bandwidth for pay.
The rabid drive that Chairman Pai has been pushing to bury NN is now halted. While it does not change much today, it does retain the ability for future administrations the opportunity to change the rules again – for better or worse, without having to start over. And, it does keep Net Neutrality alive for the time being.
What this decision will mean for the multitude of states around the country that have filed various law suits around it, and for the states that have started to place their own NN policies in place becomes an unknown. For a quick refresher 23 Attorneys General throughout the US, and led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, have challenged the original FCC to roll back the net neutrality rules. The menagerie of lawsuits, each of which relies somewhat on another decision and precedent, is starting to become complicated. With this Supreme Court decision, this can get reallycomplicated.
And this will not be the end. An organization called Public Knowledge is currently challenging the repeal in court. This means that the 2015 decision is binding on the current FCC, and on the DC Circuit panel that hears the current challenge. The FCC’s argument is based on contradicting the DC Circuit’s earlier findings. This Supreme Court decision takes the wind out of the FCC’s case.
This was a must win for pro-NN players and the last breath for NN. There had been a mountain of pressure from both the FCC and Trump to shelve this. This takes that pressure off for the time being. However, the administration has been successful over the past few months in quashing NN so it still has some momentum. As well, the California implementation of its NN policy is on hold because of its Justice Department law suit involvement.
Where this will go from here remains to be seen. Will this decision ramp up momentum for NN? Hard to say. However, states are proceeding as before. Washington State has already signed its own into law, while states such as Hawaii and New York are, seemingly, waiting for various rulings. The states might be hedging their bets against further moves by Washington.
NN, or some similar regulation of ISPs is warranted. As I noted at the beginning of this narrative, the major players in the service and content delivery arena cannot be trusted. The new golden rule, “them that has the gold, makes the rules” is what they live by and was certainly prominent in the NN battle. If you want NN to go away, then make sure the players are honest, by whatever means, other than self-regulation.