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Court Ruling Changes FCC Internet Controls

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A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that regulators have less power over Internet traffic than they had thought. The decision was a victory for Comcast, which had brought the suit challenging so-called net neutrality against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Comcast had claimed that it had every right to slow customer access to the file-sharing service BitTorrent. The FCC had tried to stop Comcast from discriminating against customers using the file-sharing service. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the FCC did not have that authority, or to set traffic rules for Internet service providers.

The New York Times reports that the ruling could have significant effects for consumers because it essentially allows Internet service providers to restrict what they allow their customers to access--or charge fees to allow them to view certain content.

In a statement, the FCC said that it is still "firmly committed to promoting an open Internet and to policies that will bring the enormous benefits of broadband to all Americans."