Originally published: August 4, 2015
Last updated: August 4, 2015 - 4:35pm
The Federal Communications Commission’s new network neutrality rules will face an important federal-court test in December, when an appeals panel will hear arguments in legal challenges brought by the telecommunications industry. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on scheduled a Dec. 4 oral-argument date for consideration of the FCC rules, which require equal treatment of Internet traffic. A divided FCC voted in favor of the rules in February, deciding to reclassify broadband providers as telecommunications services, a designation that has long applied to regular telephone service. The effort is aimed at preventing broadband providers from blocking or slowing certain Internet traffic and prioritizing other traffic. It is also in response to a court ruling from 2014 in which the same appeals court struck down the FCC’s previous attempt at open-Internet regulations.
Challenges to agency regulations in many circumstances can go straight to the DC Circuit instead of going to a trial court first. Because of its role in reviewing government regulations, the DC Circuit is considered by some legal observers to be the nation’s second most powerful court, behind only the Supreme Court. The appeals court hasn’t disclosed which judges will hear the case, as that usually happens 30 days before the scheduled argument date.
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