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Although a pinnacle battle for net neutrality was won a couple days ago, the war for a fair and open internet is far from over.
On June 14, a federal appeals court ruled 2-1 that the FCC has the power to regulate internet service providers (ISPs) in much the same way they regulate telephone service providers. The ruling means that ISPs have to obey federal regulations that ban the blocking, slowing down, or speeding up of internet traffic, according to The Washington Post.
The regulations would also protect websites that can’t afford to pay a “fee” to have their internet traffic arbitrarily sped up.
The FCC and net neutrality advocates both lobby for the internet to remain free, and for all content to be treated equally — regardless of whether they pay the ISPs more money for preferential treatment, according to the Courier Press.
But ISPs such as AT&T and Verizon are still fighting the decision tooth and nail. “We have always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court, and we look forward to participating in that appeal,” an AT&T spokesperson said.
But other factors — such as Republican officials wanting to create their own net neutrality guidelines, apart from the FCC — continue to snarl FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposed regulations.
Another issue is the fact that this week’s proposed regulations do not include any ruling on “zero rating,” which is data that isn’t counted toward bandwidth caps. Sometimes touted as an innovative way for people in developing countries to access the internet for “free,” it still is criticized as being unequal and unfair.
Net neutrality has been a hotbed topic for years, with equal vigor on both sides of the debate. But for most net neutrality advocates, the decision is pretty obvious. The internet is too important and diverse to be treated like a business — and everyone who uses the internet deserves to be treated equally.