U.S. Supreme Court ends fight over Obama-era net neutrality rules

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The appeal sought to challenge a lower court ruling that upheld Obama-era net neutrality rules that banned Internet service providers from giving preferential treatment to certain websites, CNBC reported.

According to the Supreme Court announcement today, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch "would grant the petitions, vacate the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [which upheld the FCC's net neutrality order], and remand to that court with instructions to dismiss the cases as moot".

The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 in December along party lines to reverse the rules adopted under Obama in 2015 that had barred internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes, also known as paid prioritization.

Industry trade group USTelecom, one of the groups that challenged the 2015 net neutrality rules, issued a statement saying the high court's decision "is not surprising" since the ruling had been superseded by the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom Order.

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The Supreme Court in June 2017 declined to hear a similar case challenging California's policy toward carrying guns in public.

Supporters say net neutrality protects consumers, while opponents say it discourages investment. But there were not enough justices for a majority, after Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh recused themselves. The Supreme Court's decision won't make a huge difference to an ongoing federal overhaul of net neutrality regulations in the short term, but it could set a precedent for future court cases. The Justice Department has also agreed to suspend its recent suit against California over the state's new net neutrality law, at least until the case before the D.C. Circuit is resolved.

"Much of the current FCC's argument [against net neutrality] depends on ignoring or contradicting the DC Circuit's earlier findings, but now that these are firmly established as binding law, the Pai FCC's case is on even weaker ground than before", Bergmayer said.

For more news videos visit Yahoo View. It was opposed by internet companies like Facebook Inc FB.O , Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O and Alphabet Inc GOOGL.O , which have said the repeal could lead to higher costs.

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