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Verizon, FCC set to spar in federal court over net neutrality

updated 03:07 pm EDT, Mon September 9, 2013

Oral arguments to be heard in appeals court

Verizon and the Federal Communications Commission are set to present oral arguments in an ongoing legal dispute that is being heard at the US Court of Appeals in Washington DC. The company has argued that the FCC is overstepping its authority by imposing broad "net neutrality" regulations, which are claimed to violate constitutional rights regarding property and free speech. Both sides are now tasked with defending their position in front of a three-judge panel.

The company has claimed that the First Amendment gives it protection to control and manage any content that is sent over its network, while its broadband service is said to represent private property described in the Fifth Amendment. Attorneys suggest the net-neutrality regulations enable third parties to "physicall invade networks with their electronic signals and permanently occupy portions of network capacity."

Aside from the debate surrounding constitutionality, Verizon also questions the FCC's "broad authority" to enforce any regulations that have not been explicitly approved or enacted by congress. Comcast won a court dispute in 2010 that focused on a similar debate, after the FCC penalized the provider for blocking access to BitTorrent content.

The FCC has countered Verizon's arguments, claiming the rules are necessary to bolster innovation and protect US consumers against blocked or degraded services.

The case is viewed as potentially significant for Internet regulation in the US, as a loss by the FCC could effectively strip the commission of its enforcement powers in other areas.



By Electronista Staff
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