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DC Circuit Court of Appeals dismisses net neutrality case

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to dismiss a case brought by internet service providers in a challenge to the current FCC opinion that internet service is a basic utility and internet service providers (ISPs) should be classified as common carriers which puts them under the regulation and control of the FCC.  This ruling by the FCC was made in 2013 and set the stage for a strong defense of what is commonly referred to as Net Neutrality, or the belief that companies that provide internet access should have no ability to limit or restrict access to certain parts of the internet in any way.   ISPs have argued in the past that high bandwidth website such as file-sharing sites needs to be throttled to prevent other users from having a slower-than-expected internet experience.  The fear, of course, is that once ISPs are allowed to discriminate against certain sites, they could also create better experiences for properties that they own.

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals chose not to rule on the case and instead dismiss the case entirely because the new chairman of the FCC has already announced that drastic changes to the FCC ruling of 2013 were already underway.  The circuit court stated that making any ruling today on a set of rules that is likely to be changed shortly would make no sense.

This is basically double bad news for defenders of net neutrality.   As President Trump and his FCC chairman have already stated, changes are coming that will impact net neutrality in a negative way.   This is bad enough… but with the ruling today to dismiss the case from the circuit court, it also means that if the FCC does not make drastic changes regarding net neutrality, the organization representing the ISPs, in this case, would be able to directly present their case to the US Supreme Court and would not have to worry about a lower court has already ruled against them.   The US Supreme Court currently leads by a 5-4 margin towards Republicans who are much less supportive of the concept of Net Neutrality.

This relates directly to online gambling because one of the major areas where ISPs have tried to exert their power is over websites and online business that have murky and unproven legal challenges such as online gambling.   There has always been a fear among ISPs that if users use their internet access to visit online destinations that are contrary to local or state laws, the ISPs themselves could become involved in the legal court cases both civil and penal.   A ruling against net neutrality by the Supreme Court would have huge and unintended implications for internet users everywhere and could create extreme burdens on individuals who live in areas of the US where only one or two ISPs provide internet service as those consumers would have no option to switch to a more net neutral ISP.