[telefrieden] The FCC’s attempt to sanction Comcast for interfering with subscribers’ peer-to-peer traffic absent legitimate network management requirements failed to pass muster with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. This decision severely sidetracks the Commission’s attempt to establish binding network neutrality policies, rules and regulations absent an explicit legislative mandate.
Noting that the Commission invoked no express statutory authority, the court considered whether “barring Comcast from interfering with its customers’ use of peer-to-peer networking applications is ‘reasonably ancillary to the . . . effective performance of its statutorily mandated responsibilities.’” Notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s broad deference to the FCC’s assertion of ancillary jurisdiction in the Brand X case, where the Court affirmed the FCC’s determination that cable modem provided Internet access constitutes a lightly regulated information service, the D.C. Circuit required evidence that the FCC’s regulatory action had a direct link to its statutorily mandated responsibilities. The court vacated the FCC’s sanctioning order of Comcast based on the view that the FCC could only refer to congressional statements of policy which do not provide a precedent for creating such responsibilities and to various section of the Communications Act that the court deemed inapplicable for substantive and procedural reasons.
D.C. Circuit Reverses the FCC’s Comcast Sanctioning Decision