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Appeals court upholds net neutrality rollback but says states can enact own laws

By Danielle Haynes
Appeals court upholds net neutrality rollback but says states can enact own laws
The appeals court said the FCC can't prevent states from enacting their own open Internet laws. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 1 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled in favor of the Federal Communications Commission's decision to strike down net neutrality, but said the agency can't prevent states from having their own open Internet laws.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the FCC's decision to repeal the Obama-era law, which treated all Internet data equally and barred Internet service providers from slowing or throttling speeds, blocking access to lawful content and offering "fast lanes" for large companies such as Google, Facebook and Netflix.

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The panel of judges ruled on a lawsuit against the FCC brought by Mozilla, the company that created the Firefox web browser. Supporters of net neutrality say it protects customers from Internet "gatekeepers" which could charge premium prices for faster speeds and block content from competitors.

Republicans in Congress criticized net neutrality for tougher regulations for larger ISPs like Comcast and Verizon.

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai hailed the ruling as a "victory."

"The court affirmed the FCC's decision to repeal 1930s utility-style regulation of the Internet imposed by the prior Administration," he said. "A free and open Internet is what we have today and what we'll continue to have moving forward.

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"We look forward to addressing on remand the narrow issues that the court identified."

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Though the appeals court said the FCC could roll back net neutrality protections, it did require the agency to eliminate plans to prevent states from implementing their own laws preventing ISPs from throttling or blocking Internet traffic.

Amy Keating, the chief legal officer for Mozilla, issued a statement saying the company's "fight to preserve net neutrality as a fundamental digital right is far from over."

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