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I don't know whether this is breaking or simply being ignored this morning, but it seems highly notable: The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (sometimes called the "second highest court in the country" and considered by some to be a "first among equals" among the federal appellate circuits) has published a decision challenging the authority of the FCC to require net neutrality.  [UPDATE: Essentially, this is the question of whether a service provider can treat websites differently -- say in exchange for being paid money to do so -- or whether it has to provide them the same ease and speed of transmission].

The plaintiff in the case is Comcast [which brought suit against this ruling (see story for background on issues.) -- UPDATE.]

The FCC can only issue regulations pursuant to grants of Congress.  Net neutrality is part of the FCC's national broadband plan.

I look forward to people's discussion of an issue that we can't let slip by us.

UPDATE: I've literally done nothing this morning except see the NYT headline on this and dive in here to publicize it.  I have to go to work now (9:10 PDT), but I suggest that if anyone has some more updates, especially additional net-neutrality background explanations, you should please append them to the tip jar.  The seven stories from the archive below, in reverse chronological order, should offer a good sense of the development of this issue over the life of the netroots.  I also especially recommend xapulin's comments below, and of course Adam B will be all over this in due course.  I'm sorry I can't hang around further.

UPDATE: Everything below is an update.  I'm gathering info from archives and comments below.

(Note: the material below from the DKos archives is presented in roughly reverse chronological order.)

What you should read to get up to speed on Net Neutrality

(1) Obama supports it, as indicated by this front page story

(2) Rep. Ed Markey is trying to codify it (change it from being based on regulatory decisions to being mandated by federal statute itself.)

(3) Here's the story of the new FCC Chair expressing commitment to net neutrality.

(4) Here's a good backgrounder on FCC Chair Julius Genachowski.

(5) mcjoan looked ahead to a better FCC in this respect after the 2008 election.

(6) Finally pay dirt!  Here's mcjoan's story on the initial FCC ruling, which has a lot of good background on the issues at hand.

(7) Here's another good backgrounder from mcjoan, talking about Ed Markey's bill mentioned above.


xapulin comments on the negative reaction of the judges who heard the appeal at the time.

The National Broadband Plan

CDH in Brooklyn is kind enough to provide us with this bit on the National Broadband Plan.

Goal 1: At least 100 million U.S. homes should have affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and actual upload speeds of at least 50 megabits per second.

Goal 2: The United States should lead the world in mobile innovation, with the fastest and most extensive wireless networks of any nation.

Goal 3: Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband service, and the means and skills to subscribe if they so choose.

Goal 4: Every community should have affordable access to at least 1 Gbps broadband service to anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals and government buildings.

Goal 5: To ensure the safety of Americans, every first responder should have access to a nationwide public safety wireless network.

Goal 6: To ensure that America leads in the clean energy economy, every American should be able to use broadband to track and manage their real-time energy consumption.

The promised primer

Marc Ambinder provides a relatively recent primer on net neutrality.  In searching for a better one, I found that they're largely old and very largely against -- apparently coming from libertarian and/or corporate perspectives.  Anyone should feel free to append a better one than this to the tip jar.

Joe Bob has a nice comment below to explain things for those unfamiliar with the concept:

Here’s a scenario to illustrate why net neutrality is important:

Let’s say you buy broadband internet access from Comcast. Say Comcast also has a streaming video service for movies on demand. However, you don’t like Comcast’s on demand service and you prefer Netflix. If Comcast isn’t required to be content neutral for what is transmitted over their network, they could slow Netflix downloads to a crawl and make their own service the only one that really works.

You can take this concept and apply it to any type of content on the internet. Comcast, or Time Warner, Verizon, or whoever, could enter into a marketing agreement with any other business so that business’s content would be privileged over others.

Basically, ask yourself the question: What would happen if the whole internet were pay to play?. Media corporations that could pay for access would be in the express lane. Meanwhile, every other site that currently has equal access to broadband transmission would be in the slow lane.  

Originally posted to Doane Spills on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 08:33 AM PDT.

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