Net neutrality at the US FCC: A brief history

An appeals court hearing Monday is the latest in a long debate over the regulations

By , IDG News Service |  Internet

April 2008 -- FCC Chairman Kevin Martin says Comcast's slowing of peer-to-peer traffic appears to be more widespread than the company had disclosed. In May, the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems finds that Comcast and Cox Communications are slowing BitTorrent traffic at all times of the day, not just during peak traffic. Comcast says BitTorrent can cause traffic peaks at any time of the day.

August 2008 -- The FCC orders Comcast to stop its "invasive" interference with peer-to-peer traffic on its broadband network and to create a new network management plan.

September 2008 -- Comcast appeals the FCC's antithrottling order, arguing that the commission had no hard rules against the company's network management practices.

April 2010 -- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the same court hearing Verizon's challenge of newer rules, overturns the FCC's Comcast ruling, saying the agency lacks "any statutorily mandated responsibility" to enforce network neutrality rules.

December 2010 -- After months of discussion, the FCC approves net neutrality regulations that some consumer and digital rights groups say are weak and full of loopholes.

January 2011 -- Verizon files a challenge to the net neutrality rules, saying the FCC doesn't have the authority to enforce them. After the D.C. appeals court tosses out the lawsuit as premature because the rules aren't yet published, Verizon refiles its lawsuit in September 2011. Along the way, mobile provider MetroPCS files a similar lawsuit, then backs out after it merges T-Mobile USA.

Early 2011 to present -- U.S. House of Representatives Republicans try to overturn the FCC's net neutrality rules, without success.

September 2011 -- Digital rights group Free Press files a lawsuit challenging the net neutrality rules as too weak, with the group arguing the FCC shouldn't have allowed weaker protections for mobile broadband users. Free Press later drops the lawsuit.

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