The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has backed the cable company Comcast in its dispute with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which accused the company of slowing some Internet traffic on its network. The ruling is seen as a blow to the government’s efforts to push through "net neutrality" regulations.
The proposed regulations would prevent companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from restricting access to Internet content, applications and services offered by competitors. Analysts say applications such as Google, Skype and Facebook would be among the biggest beneficiaries of such regulations.
In the court’s opinion, the FCC exceeded its authority when it sanctioned Comcast in 2008 for preventing some subscribers from using peer-to-peer file-sharing services to download large files, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The ruling was welcomed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, whose public sector co-chair Representative Bill Hamzy (R-Conn.), said that "the FCC’s order was an unprecedented attempt by government to patrol private broadband networks."
However, the FCC has vowed to continue to push for net neutrality, with its spokeswoman Jen Howard saying that the court did not "[disagree] with the importance of preserving a free and open Internet, nor did it close the door to other methods for achieving this important end," quoted by the Journal.