[abc] The Federal Communications Commission ran into a potential setback Friday in its push to draft rules that would require Internet providers to give equal treatment to all data flowing over their networks.
In hearing a legal dispute between the agency and Comcast Corp., a three-judge federal appeals court panel questioned the commission's authority to impose so-called "net neutrality" obligations on the nation's largest cable TV and Internet operator. Those rules are intended to prevent broadband providers from abusing their control over the market for high-speed Internet access.
A decision that goes against the FCC could undermine its ability to impose such rules on all broadband companies — not just Comcast.
Friday's oral arguments centered on Comcast's challenge of a 2008 FCC order banning the company from blocking its broadband subscribers from using an online file-sharing technology known as BitTorrent. The commission, at the time headed by Republican Kevin Martin, based its order on a set of net-neutrality principles it adopted in 2005 to prevent broadband providers from favoring or discriminating against certain types of Internet traffic. Those principles have guided the FCC's enforcement of communications laws on a case-by-case basis.
Comcast, FCC Take Net Neutrality Dispute to Court