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US federal appeals court rules states can pass net neutrality rules

US federal appeals court rules states can pass net neutrality rules

October 1, 2019 | By Alissa McAloon

October 1, 2019 | By Alissa McAloon
More: Social/Online

The Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality repeal has been upheld by a federal appeals court, but the court’s ruling found that the FCC is not able to bar states from passing their own net neutrality protections as the commission had previously thought.

This latest development in the net neutrality back-and-forth is the result of a case brought against the FCC by Mozilla, and backed by a number of other notable websites and state attorneys general, reports CNET.

The legal exchange comes two years after the FCC’s controversial vote to roll back Obama-era regulations that prohibited internet providers from throttling or paywalling access to certain websites or kinds of internet usage. The FCC voted 3-2 to repeal the protections in 2017, and the rollback itself started the following summer.

Since, some individual states have moved to put their own net neutrality protections into place though, in the case of California’s attempt to do so last October, some attempts have been met with pushback from the Department of Justice and FCC. At the time, the now-former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that  “states do not regulate interstate commerce—the federal government does. Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy.”

In response to this latest ruling, a statement from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai notes that he sees the court’s overall decision as a "victory for consumers, broadband deployment, and the free and open Internet” and, on the topic of state-led net neutrality rules and other issues the court found with the repeal, that the FCC “[looks] forward to addressing on remand the narrow issues that the court identified."

On the other side of the issue, a statement from Mozilla chief legal counsel Amy Keating says the court’s ruling "[frees] states to enact net neutrality rules to protect consumers." 

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