The case was largely seen as a test of the FCC’s authority to, in the words of Chairman Julius Genachowski, act as a “cop on the beat” on the Internet. A majority of commissioners on the FCC have stated they want to impose net neutrality rules, rather than let the concept of a “free” and “open” Internet be something industry players embrace voluntarily with market forces guiding the policy.
Judge David Tatel made clear when writing the unanimous 3-0 decision that only Congress can award such power to the commission, and has failed to do so.
Jim Harper, director of Information Policy Studies at the Washington, DC-based Cato Institute, praised the decision, saying it “marks another turning point in the debate over whether the federal government should regulate Internet access services.”
Advocates of allowing the FCC to regulate net neutrality rules expressed disappointment with the ruling.
Adam Thierer, president of the Washington, DC-based Progress & Freedom Foundation, said “the question now is whether the FCC learns its lesson—that it should seek the proper authority from Congress to impose new regulations like Net neutrality rules—or if the agency instead engages in another effort to concoct regulatory authority via regulatory classification.”