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Court Strikes Down Net Neutrality

Thanamat Somwan/

A federal court on Tuesday overturned the Federal Communications Commission's network-neutrality regulations, dealing a blow to the Obama administration's effort to ensure the openness of the Internet.

The rules were a campaign promise from Obama in 2008 and were the signature achievement of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who stepped down last year.

But the three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit sided with Verizon's lawsuit, saying the FCC acted outside its authority by enacting the rules.

If the decision stands, it could mean that Internet providers could soon start charging websites like Google and Netflix to reach users.

The FCC's net-neutrality rules, formally called the Open Internet Order, bar Internet service providers from blocking websites or from discriminating against any Internet traffic, except for reasonable network management.

Supporters of the rules argue they are critical for maintaining a free and open Internet. 

But Republicans and other critics say the rules unnecessarily restrict the business decisions of Internet providers.

After the oral argument in September, many observers anticipated that the D.C. Circuit would strike down at least part of the net-neutrality order. But the court went even further than many expected, throwing out both the antidiscrimination and anti-blocking provisions.

(Image via Thanamat Somwan/

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