ISPs could face various state internet regulations after a US court ruled that the federal government cannot block states from passing their own net neutrality laws, though the court did while largely upholding the 2017 repeal of rules barring providers from blocking or throttling traffic.
US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the Federal Communications Commission erred when it declared that states cannot pass their own net neutrality laws and ordered the agency to review some key aspects of its 2017 repeal of rules set by the Obama administration. But it left open the possibility the FCC could seek to block state efforts on a case-by-case basis.
The decision could subject internet providers to a variety of state regulations on internet traffic. Verizon Communications Inc said the ruling “underscores the need for Congress to adopt national legislation that provides protections for consumers while avoiding a disruptive, inconsistent patchwork of state Internet regulation.”
The court also found that the FCC acted properly when it overturned a 2015 decision that had classified broadband internet as a utility-style service that handed the FCC sweeping authority to regulate it and instead classified it as less regulated information service.
The 2017 FCC decision handed internet providers sweeping powers to recast how Americans use the internet, as long as they disclose changes. The new rules took effect in June 2018, reversing rules adopted under former President Barack Obama in 2015 which barred internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes, also known as paid prioritisation.
An FCC official told reporters that the decision is “not a green light” for states to pass any internet rules they want and said the FCC has not decided whether to appeal portions of the decision.