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“Net neutrality” — the colloquial term for regulations that prevent internet providers from slowing or blocking delivery of content to consumers — has been upheld by a federal appeals court.

A three-judge panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., sided with the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday, defining the internet as a utility to which all Americans should have access, rather than a luxury subject to fewer regulations.

Defining the internet as a utility prevents broadband providers from restricting access in order to promote their own services or give preferential treatment to partners. The ruling largely prioritizes the rights of web consumers over the interests of internet providers.

“When a subscriber uses her broadband service to access internet content of her own choosing, she does not understand the accessed content to reflect her broadband provider’s editorial judgment or viewpoint,” the ruling says. “If it were otherwise — if the accessed content were somehow imputed to the broadband provider — the provider would have First Amendment interests more centrally at stake.”

The decision also includes wireless carriers, like AT&T and T-Mobile, as internet carriers subject to the same regulations. The full ruling is available here.

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