Author: Jon Kelly, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review
One of the greatest benefits of the internet is the seemingly endless supply of content and information available to users. Indeed, people have the ability to download or stream any type of media or purchase any type of product thanks in part to the openness of the internet. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for regulating this massive amount of content and the companies that provide access to it. However, the growth of the internet and the enforcement of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has sparked legal disputes over the FCC’s right to enforce net neutrality—the idea that quality and speed of access should not depend on content or its source. Earlier this year in Verizon v. FCC, the D.C. Circuit struck down the FCC’s key rules in its enforcement of net neutrality. In this case, FCC “net neutrality” regulations prevented internet providers from withholding proper user access to content providers like Amazon or Netflix. Given the structure of the Telecommunications Act, the decision by the Circuit is well-grounded. However, considering the importance of free and open internet, Congress should amend the Act to allow the FCC to enforce net neutrality rules on internet service providers.