Washington D.C. – The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington defended on Tuesday net-neutrality rules supported by the President Barack Obama’s administration. Internet providers would have to offer the same speeds for all customers, whether they are using Youtube or Wikipedia.

Tuesday’s 2-1 decision determines that providers such as AT&T won’t be able to charge extra fees for faster internet speeds. The telecom industry has planned to create “fast lanes” for certain services such as Netflix and Youtube, which consume more data and require faster speeds.

U.S. Court of Appeals discusses net neutrality
On Tuesday, The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington defended net-neutrality rules supported by the President Barack Obama’s administration. Credit: Seldomindia.com

On Thursday, the White House said the ruling is “a victory” for Americans, and invited everyone to participate in a debate for a “free and fair Internet.” 84.2 percent of the American population use the internet, according to United States Census Bureau.

“For almost a century, our law has recognized that companies who connect you to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access in and out of your home or business,” said the Press Secretary on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The Federal Communications Commission has won: Internet providers are going to the Supreme Court

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be in charge of regulating the internet service as a utility, said the Washington Post. In other words, it would ban practices that do not follow the rules of net neutrality.

New rules apply to both cable and mobile companies such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Comcast. President Barack Obama has been an advocate of net neutrality since he was a senator. He also requested regulators last year to present strict guidelines to internet providers.

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, said that Tuesday’s ruling “affirms the commission’s ability” to guarantee strong protections to Internet users, after more than a decade of debates and legal battles.

“It ensures the Internet remains open, now and in the future,” he added, according to the NY Times.

The White House stressed that service providers should not serve as “paid gatekeepers.” Opponents such as Comcast and Verizon would now seek support from the Congress and the Supreme Court. The latter has been divided 4-4 between Democrats and Republicans since February.

Supporters: ‘The internet has transformed nearly every aspect of our lives’

David Tatel and Sri Srinivasan, judges in favor of treating the internet as a utility, remarked how this service has changed “every aspect” of society within the past two decades. By contrast, AT&T said the legal battle is not over.

David McAtee II, senior executive vice president and general counsel of AT&T, said on Tuesday that the company has always expected to solve “the issue” at the Supreme Court. The company is currently planning to participate in an appeal.

According to the FCC, it won’t be convenient if providers offer fast or slow lanes, depending on how much users pay. The ruling also assesses details such as privacy, to prevent companies from collecting and selling data about internet subscribers.

Tech giants such as Netflix, Google, Twitter and Facebook support rules seeking to maintain the internet neutrality. They said that providers should not be able to offer different internet speeds since it would affect companies and users in the business.

Source: New York Times