I had queued up for commentary Andy Opsahl’s latest column on the Federal Communication Commission’s national broadband plan and its implications for local governments (such as decreased revenue from right-of-way fees on fiber installations — dang, didn’t see that one coming!).

Then the District of Columbia U.S. Court of Appeals throws a monkey wrench in my blogging plans and the entire Internet by ruling today that the FCC doesn’t have authority over the Internet:

Specifically, the court ruled that the FCC failed to establish its legal authority for an action it took against Comcast in 2008. The FCC said at the time that Comcast improperly blocked its consumers from using BitTorrent, an Internet application used to share large files, such as movies.

The court decision is a stinging setback for proponents of so-called net neutrality rules, which would require Internet service providers to treat all Internet traffic equally. Without such rules, critics fear that Internet service providers could play favorites on their networks, blocking or charging for video or other content that competes with their own offerings, or offering lower speeds for those outside services.

“The ramifications of this go far beyond Comcast blocking BitTorrent,” said S. Derek Turner, research director for the consumer advocacy group Free Press. “The FCC is essentially unable now to protect consumers and implement the national broadband plan” [Mike Zapler and Mike Swift, “FCC lacks authority to enforce net neutrality, appeals court says,” San Jose Mercury News, 2010.04.06].

So if the FCC doesn’t have the authority to regulate the Internet, who does?

Read more at Wired and Wall Street Journal. And remember: when it comes to net neutrality, don’t listen to Glenn Beck.

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