A major blow against the FCC in its efforts to regulate the Internet -- the U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled against the agency's "net neutrality" rules.
The FCC is trying to set rules that would require broadband providers to allow equal access to all Internet sites that use their networks. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski argues that these regulations are necessary to prevent Internet providers from favoring certain sites or services over others.
But the Washington, D.C. court ruled the FCC lacks the authority to set such rules.
The case centered on the FCC's 2008 ruling that stopped Comcast's attempt to ban a file-sharing service. The FCC based its decision on a series of previous guidelines designed to stop providers from being able to censor content. The FCC is now trying to formalize those rules, but the court's decision is a huge setback for the agency's quest.
The decision could also derail the huge national broadband plan the FCC released last month. The plan would expand broadband service into poor and rural areas. The FCC needs clear authority to regulate broadband in order to go ahead with is proposals, and this ruling puts that authority in doubt.