WASHINGTON -- When the Obama administration approved strong new net neutrality rules earlier this year, advocates rejoiced. "We have won on net neutrality,” Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak told The Guardian. President Barack Obama declared victory and thanked Reddit, the self-proclaimed "Front Page of the Internet" for its community's activism on the issue.
But these celebrations may have been premature. Telecom and cable companies, which provide broadband access to the vast majority of Americans, are challenging the Obama administration's actions in court. If they get their way, a federal appeals court will soon delay some rules that aim to protect net neutrality, the principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally. Open-Internet advocates fear that an unfavorable decision may open the door for harmful business practices while the court battle—which could take years—plays out. A stay on part of the new rules would also likely embolden Republicans on Capitol Hill who seek to pass laws gutting the rules.