Divided US FCC adopts Internet traffic rules

WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – U.S. communications  regulators adopted Internet traffic rules yesterday that  prevent providers from blocking lawful content but still let  them ration access to their networks.

The Federal Communications Commission approved the “Open  Internet” order after FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s plan  got the support of fellow Democrats Michael Copps and Mignon  Clyburn.

The rules aim to strike a balance between the interests of  Internet service providers, content companies and consumers,  but some industry analysts think a court challenge is still  likely.

At issue is whether regulators need to guarantee that all  stakeholders continue to have reasonable access to the  Internet, a principle often called “net neutrality,” or whether  the Internet is best left to flourish unregulated.

The FCC’s ability to regulate the Internet has been in  doubt since an appeals court in April said the agency lacked  the authority to stop cable company Comcast Corp from blocking  bandwidth-hogging applications.

Senior FCC officials have said they will invoke new legal  arguments not employed in the Comcast case.

The two Republican commissioners at the agency opposed the  latest rule-making effort, saying it was unnecessary and would  stifle innovation. Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker  told an FCC open meeting that they believed the rules would  fail in court.

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