Battle Over 'Future of Open Internet' Hits Court

A landmark case affecting the future of the internet headed to court on Monday.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear Verizon’s challenge to the net neutrality protections—protections advocates say are vital to an open internet—passed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2010. 

Josh Levy of internet freedom group Free Press writes that “If Verizon gets its way, the FCC’s rules protecting Internet users from corporate abuse will disappear.”

What is net neutrality?  Free Press explains that it “means that Internet service providers [ISPs] may not discriminate between different kinds of online content and apps. It guarantees a level playing field for all websites and Internet technologies.”

“The 2011 rules,” Reuters reports, “required internet providers to treat all traffic equally and to give consumers equal access to all lawful content, even where that content might compete with aspects of the Internet provider’s business.”

But what does that mean to you as an Internet user? Simon Maloy of the watchdog group Media Matters for America breaks the issue down further:

In other words, as Levy writes, the goal for ISPs is “to turn the Internet into their own private profit engine.”

The Hill summarizes both sides’ arguments:

David Sohn of the open internet advocates Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) writes that “the truly radical issue raised in this case is Verizon’s claim that it has a First Amendment right to ‘edit’ its users’ communications.”  He continues:

Levy echoes the cable analogy, and says the stakes in the outcome of the case “couldn’t be higher”:

Tech news site Gigaom reports that a decision in the case is expected late fall or winter.