The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] on Tuesday upheld [opinion, PDF] the net-neutrality regulations designed to ensure an open Internet. Last year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] passed new rules [JURIST report] that prevent service providers from offering speedier lands to those willing to pay extra. This caused controversy between businesses such as Google and Netflix with service providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast [company website]. There has been additional concern that while all customers have not been treated equally neither has all content. This has occurred as a result of various providers offering free data for viewing certain web videos over others. In its decision, the appeals court likened Internet service providers to utilities, saying that they should act as “neutral, indiscriminate platforms for transmission of speech.” AT&T has stated [Bloomberg report] its intention to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
Net neutrality [JURIST backgrounder] has emerged as a major political issue in the US and internationally. In November 2014 US President Barack Obama said [statement] that he strongly supports the concept of net neutrality. In May 2014 the FCC adopted [JURIST report] new Internet traffic rules in light of a court decision [opinion, PDF] that struck down former rules requiring broadband providers to employ nondiscriminatory practices in the treatment of Internet content. In April 2014 the European Parliament approved [JURIST report] a net neutrality proposal that prohibits Internet service providers from enhancing or restricting services for selected Internet traffic. The proposed law, approved by a 534-25 vote with 58 abstentions, aims to treat all Internet traffic equally by making it illegal to block, slow down or give preferential treatment to certain specific applications and services for economic or other reasons.