The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the FCC’s mandate that Comcast deregulate the use of Bittorrent on its network was unjustified.
In 2007 subscribers to Comcast’s high-speed Internet service found that Comcast was regulating their use Bittorent (P2P). Two non-profit advocacy organizations, Free Press and Public Knowledge, filed a complaint with the FCC challenging Comcast’s actions.
The FCC told Comcast to manage network traffic without discriminating against peer-to-peer communications networks such as Bittorrent.
Comcast complied with the order, but filed an appeal contending that the FCC had failed to justify exercising jurisdiction over its network management practices.
DC Court Judge David Tatel wrote:
“In this case we must decide whether the Federal Communications Commission has authority to regulate an Internet service provider’s network management practices.”
Judge Tatel further stated that even the FCC acknowledged it had no “express statutory authority” to require Comcast to deregulate it’s use of Bittorrent (P2P) on their broadband cable network.
“The Commission may exercise this “ancillary” authority only if it demonstrates that its action—here barring Comcast from interfering with its customers’ use of peer-to-peer networking applications—is “reasonably ancillary to the . . . effective performance of its statutorily mandated responsibilities.”
The FCC failed to show that the regulation was “reasonably ancillary” to the FCC’s authority.
The DC court granted Comcast’s petition for review and vacated the challenged FCC order.