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BitTorrent Decision A Blow To Net Neutrality

This week’s decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which vacated the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) BitTorrent decision is a victory for Comcast.

But it is a blow to anyone who values the openness of the Internet as we know it today.

The court concluded that the FCC commission did not sufficiently establish the ancillary authority over Comcast’s network management practices it asserted. The decision could prompt the FCC to reclassify Internet service under phone service regulations to establish the authority to enforce Internet openness as it prepares to expand and codify its network neutrality guidelines.

While Comcast was “gratified by the Court’s decision” and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said the ruling was right, the trade group said the decision would not affect the FCC’s ability to protect Internet openness.

One trade group in Washington that is not amused is the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which has fought for net neutrality for several years.

In a statement, a CEA spokesman outlined the group’s position: “The open Internet that we enjoy today must be preserved in the broadband era, for all platforms, to ensure that the Internet remains a foundation of innovation.  As a nation we must continue to develop and promote a national broadband strategy. ”

The statement continued, “This strategy should include policies that advance broadband deployment and adoption by stimulating investment in end-to-end high-speed infrastructures, both wired and wireless, and spurring marketplace competition.  A robust competitive marketplace is key to ensuring every consumer has access to and choice of affordable broadband services.  This is crucial for the development of new services and technologies that broadband providers neither discriminate nor search the data for competitors or even potential copyright infringers.”

This will not be the last of this issue before it is decided. The FCC has extended its reply comment deadline on net neutrality to April 26 to allow interested parties to consider the implications of the BitTorrent decision. Click here for further coverage of the issue from TWICE’s sister publication Multichannel News.

One thing is for sure – this will be a hot topic of conversation in Washington during the CEA Digital Patriots dinner on April 21, which brings government and industry leaders together to network and discuss tech policy issues like these.