A US appeals court has ruled that the US Federal Communications Commission did not have the authority to order Comcast to stop throttling peer-to-peer traffic in the name of network management.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the FCC's August 2008 ruling forcing Comcast to abandon its network management efforts aimed at users of the BitTorrent p-to-p service and other applications. The FCC lacked "any statutorily mandated responsibility" to enforce network neutrality rules, wrote Judge David Tatel.
The FCC's 3-2 vote to enforce a set of net neutrality principles came after news reports in late 2007 that Comcast was slowing BitTorrent traffic for many customers. Comcast first denied it was throttling traffic, then said it was doing so only to protect customers from network congestion.
The appeals court ruling may call into question the FCC's authority to move forward with formal net neutrality rules. The FCC in October launched a rulemaking process to formalise the net neutrality principles in place since 2005.