Life has changed with the Internet but it will change even more as the fate of the Internet is in court hands once again. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will determine how Internet providers will change how we use the internet, what content will be permitted, and how we access and to what limit and extent. The court will decide on how and to what extent the industry market players can control or restrict or even discriminate disparate uses and a variety of website.
The D.C. Circuit is stepping in on issues pertaining to, not only about the “Internet” and the future in our lives but about deciding on, the limits to federal agency authority. More specifically, the D.C. Circuit is about to weigh into larger aspects of governance that will conceptually impact other industries in the following: to what extent federal agencies’ actions and authority are limited; to delineate what is proper federal agency governance over a vital aspect of human interaction; to once and for all clarify to the public at large what the courts’ role and duty is in governance in balance with the legislative and executive branches.
The D.C. Circuit had previously held, in the 2014 case Verizon v. FCC, aka the “net neutrality” case, that the FCC had abused its authority. While the court held that determination it did not provide how the agency could proceed in its role to rectify its actions. The decision was authored by Judge Tatel, who is still on the bench for this round of analysis and for this timely and crucial determination for the future of the internet. While the personnel on the bench has changed, the issues will reverberate beyond the internet and set conceptual lines, to be finally understood, on the appropriate authority of a federal agency regarding the fate of the Internet.