A federal appeals court affirmed the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality Tuesday, ruling that the FCC acted legally in overturning the rule. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals most regularly upholds agency decisions, and did so again in this case, even though it noted that it is "deeply concerned that the result is unhinged from the realities of modern broadband service."
It's not entirely bad news for net neutrality, even though it's a major setback. The court declared that the FCC cannot prevent states from enacting their own open internet laws or regulations. There are now nine states that have rules protecting net neutrality, six of which have done it by executive order. There are four states that have passed laws and another 27 considering legislation. On top of that, more than 125 mayors around the country have signed net neutrality pledges that they won't do business with ISPs that violate net neutrality standards. The court also ordered the FCC to rework the repeal to ensure that net neutrality rules applied for first responders and public safety agencies, as well as ensuring that low-income communities have access.
There are other glimmers of hope. The court deferred to the FCC, which means the next FCC under a Democratic president can reverse course and restore it. The Save the Internet Act, passed by the House this year, is still viable as well, when we have the Senate. That means the fight stays alive in our cities and our states and in Congress.