Ruling: FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules Don’t Apply To ISPs

A US appeals court today ruled that the FCC’s net neutrality rules don’t apply to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which might set a precedent for prioritization of Internet traffic. The ruling might seem pedantic and not that important for advertisers, but it means that ISPs can, without fear of punishment, strike deals with websites to prioritize web traffic. The net neutrality laws are based on the same principle as the “common carrier” terms, which mean that certain types of telephone calls aren’t prioritized over others, so that the phone lines are always open to everybody, all the time. If the same laws don’t apply to the Internet, ISPs can do deals with large companies to ensure that their services have more bandwidth, taking bandwidth away from smaller websites or projects. So if you have a digital UX/UI experience, campaign, or project that isn’t in on one of these deals, it could be de-prioritized and fall on its head because of a lack of bandwidth. Or, in the words of the ruling, “it might degrade the quality of the connection to a search website like Bing if a competitor like Google paid for prioritized access.” The FCC is currently in the process of appealing the ruling, so this might not stand for long, but until it is actually overturned it’s an important development to keep a close eye on.