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US: Court backs landmark Obama internet equal-access rules

 |  June 14, 2016

A federal court has ruled that high-speed internet service is essentially a utility that should be equally accessible to all Americans, rather than a luxury that does not need close government supervision.

The ruling could clear the way for more rigorous policing of broadband providers but also greater protections for web users.

The historic ruling by a three-judge panel at the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sets up an appeal to the United States Supreme Court on what is shaping up as a historic legal battle on the definition of broadband.

In 2015 the Federal Communications Commission created rules governing broadband the most important of which was the FCC’s definition of it as a utility and as such subject to closer government supervision and rules.

Web and telecommunications companies have strongly opposed the FCC ruling saying the federal agency does not have the legal authority to rule as they did and that the ruling will hurt their businesses.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for consumers and innovators who deserve unfettered access to the entire web, and it ensures the internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth,” FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. “After a decade of debate and legal battles, today’s ruling affirms the Commission’s ability to enforce the strongest possible internet protections – both on fixed and mobile networks – that will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future.”

The rules were passed last year, with almost 4 million people filing public comments, setting a record for interest in an FCC proceeding.

Full Content: New York Times

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