The debate over net neutrality and whether the Internet should be open and free will erupt once again.
A court hearing is scheduled for Friday to allow the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and net neutrality supporters battle it out over whether changes the FCC made to Internet access regulations were fair. The debate centers on a change the FCC made in late-2017 that ended protections that ensured all Internet traffic would be treated equally. The new regulations would allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs), like Comcast and Spectrum, among others, to give preferential treatment to certain types of content and charge more for certain types of traffic.
The case, Mozilla Corporation v. FCC, will be heard starting at 9:30 a.m. ET on Friday. It’ll be held before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Mozilla Corporation is the company behind the Firefox browser and other Internet services. It’s backed by many open Internet activists and advocates.
Net neutrality has many potentially serious implications. A free and open Internet allows for the flow of Internet traffic through ISP networks. That means any type of Internet traffic is treated the same, priced the same, and not given preferential treatment. But if the FCC rule stands, some open Internet advocates fear the Internet could be weaponized by large corporations to safeguard their services and harm others. Startups with little clout could be especially at risk.
For its part, the FCC has said that it acted legally and can decide how rules are set on Internet access. And in a statement to Axios on Friday, the government agency said that it’s “confident that the Restoring Internet Freedom Order will be upheld in court.”
A ruling on the matter isn’t expected on Friday. However, both sides will be able to start the process of laying out their arguments.
Needless to say, the eventual ruling could have a profound impact on the Internet as we know it.