In their attempt to delegitimize the net neutrality rules of the Obama era, AT&T® said that the open internet regulations of the Federal Communications Commission do not block the internet providers from throttling and blocking the web traffic in all situations. AT&T® said that citing a federal court ruling, which upheld these rules.
A three-judge panel on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed the rule in the court, rejecting a lawsuit that was brought by the various internet service providers. The different broadband providers appealed the case to full circuit judges, but they also upheld the rules and explained reasons.
The Vice President of AT&T® Federal Regulatory, Hank Hultquist highlighted an area of the ruling in one of his blog posts, that seems to outline a situation in which the internet service providers could slowdown, block, or speed up the internet traffic. He said that these are activities that are forbidden in the Open Internet Order of FCC released in 2015.
“According to the concurrence, which was written by Judges Sri Srinivasan and David S. Tatel, the net neutrality rule applies only to ‘those broadband providers who hold themselves out as neutral, indiscriminate conduits’ to any content of a subscriber’s own choosing,” Hultquist wrote.
“The concurrence goes on to say, ‘the rule does not apply to an ISP holding itself out as providing something other than a neutral, indiscriminate pathway – i.e., an ISP making sufficiently clear that it provides a filtered service involving the ISP’s exercise of editorial discretion.’”
Hultquist further said that he was surprised by this argument, as it appears to concede that “[i]n the understanding of the D.C. Circuit panel majority, it seems that the Title II order does not touch such practices as long as an ISP clearly discloses its blocking plans to customers.”
“[I]n the past, supporters of Title II often alleged that without reclassification, ISPs would be free to block unpopular opinions or viewpoints that they disagreed with,” he added.
AT&T® is one of the cheap internet carriers who support the plan of Trump Administration to reverse the reclassification of the different internet service providers as common carriers, which is a public utility designation that is coded under Title II of the Communications Act. However, Title II does not have to do anything with the throttling or blocking, as the FCC made these rules separately.