On Oct. 1, 2019, a federal appeals court Tuesday upheld most of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) 2017 decision to jettison Obama-era net neutrality rules, at least for now. But the court said the FCC overstepped its authority in banning states from enforcing their own net neutrality regulations.
The mixed decision is the latest twist in the long battle over net neutrality. In 2015 the FCC passed sweeping rules banning broadband internet providers from blocking or otherwise interfering with lawful content. But in 2017 the now Republican-controlled FCC repealed the 2015 rules and banned states from passing their own rules. Soon after, a coalition including state attorneys general, internet industry groups, and nonprofit organizations filed suit, arguing the FCC’s decision was illegal.
Meanwhile, California and Washington state passed their own net neutrality laws last year, and other states, including New York, Montana, Vermont, and Oregon, passed laws or imposed executive orders banning state agencies from buying services from broadband providers that violate net neutrality. Tuesday's decision stops the FCC from preempting those laws automatically, but they can still be challenged on a case-by-case basis. The US Justice Department filed suit against California shortly after then-governor Jerry Brown signed the state's net neutrality bill into law last year, but the two sides later agreed to delay the case until the lawsuit over the FCC rules was resolved.
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