Today I planned on talking about State v. Cox... As you can tell, this is not State v. Cox, but rather Comcast v. FCC. I present this case today because of my strong feelings on the issues of the net. Let me start by introducing you to our contenders today:
Comcast - Evil, powerful, private broadband company that is intent on providing it's customers with access to landlines, cable television, and internet (while charging whatever they can get away with). Considered by many to be a monopoly service providing thug, although I think I might analogize them more as your friendly neighborhood drug dealer (but more evil, and legal).
FCC - Evil governmental agency bent on controlling what you are allowed to see and hear over the air waves and through your television. Think of the "7 words" you can't say on the radio. They are the reason you can't say them.
As you can tell, I am a big fan of both organizations[!] So this ruling has me a little confused and disorientated.
The issue was this: Comcast was caught blocking some of it's users from being able to accessing some programs on the internet (think of a private American version of the Great Firewall of China). Suit was filed with the FCC who determined that "consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice . . . [and] to run applications and use services of their choice.” Comcast defended its interference with peer-to-peer programs as necessary to manage scarce network capacity. - Well it looks like I would side with the FCC on this one (wow, that seems weird to say).
Comcast, of course, appealed to the Court of Appeals, who produced yesterday's ruling. The FCC did not have the authority to require Comcast to provide equal access to the internet, and applications over the internet. In defense of the court, their decision seemed to be well founded, and essentially the FCC dropped the ball on how they should have gone about this.
Now, there are several options available to the FCC at this point: 1) Appeal to the US SCt (they will probably lose); 2) Ask Congress to give them the power; 3) Reconstruct and interrupt the powers originally granted to them give a better basis.
I'm no Admin Lawyer, but I think I got that right, Prof. Murphy would probably be happy I remembered at least a little of his class.
Here's one of my favorite parts, Comcast's statement following the court ruling:
“We are gratified by the Court’s decision today to vacate the previous FCC’s order. Our primary goal was always to clear our name and reputation. We have always been focused on serving our customers and delivering the quality open-Internet experience consumers want. Comcast remains committed to the FCC’s existing open Internet principles, and we will continue to work constructively with this FCC as it determines how best to increase broadband adoption and preserve an open and vibrant Internet.”
Here's my interpretation of their statement:
"We are happy we don't have to listen to the FCC. We just wanted to make sure we had the power to screw with people. We have always been focused on screwing with people and taking their money, but it's nice that the Court of Appeals has allowed us to do this. We remain committed to trying to screw with people to the maximum extent of the law and the FCC."
I would like to note that this is my rant-n-rave, based on my personal views and beliefs. The actual case is re-posted below, so you can read it for yourself.
Please remember that the interpretation and analysis presented here is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice please contact us for a free consultation and actual examination the issues that your case may present.
Landon J. Ascheman, Esq.
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