The Supreme Court in the United States of America declined to hear challenges to net neutrality regulations adopted in 2015 by the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama administration.

The superior court upheld the decision made by a federal appeals court from 2016.

The 2015 regulations, which were repealed by the FCC at the end of 2017, had barred broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or content.

Three members of the Supreme Court — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — said they would have instead vacated the appeals court decision as moot, presumably because the commission reversed itself last year, after a change in its membership.

Neither Chief Justice John Roberts nor new Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh participated in the decision.

The rules adopted under Obama  barred internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes, also known as paid prioritization.

The new rules, which gave internet service providers greater power to regulate the content that customers access, are now the subject of a separate legal fight after being challenged by many of the groups that backed net neutrality.

The net neutrality repeal was a win for providers like Comcast Corp, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc. It was opposed by internet companies like Facebook Inc, Inc and Alphabet Inc, which said the repeal could lead to higher costs for the consumers.

The high court decision not to throw out the 2016 U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruling leaves a legal precedent in place that could help net neutrality supporters in any future legal battle if that policy is ever re-introduced.

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers treat all data on the Internet equally, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. (Gilroy)

Kenyan law does not expressly provide for the legal position on Net Neutrality or the adoption of the aformentioned principle. However, the National ICT Policy (proposed) of proved for respect for net neutrality.

The Instrument encouraged for the development of a net neutrality policy by providing:

‘Net neutrality is the principle that all Internet content and applications regardless of the source are treated the same. A net neutrality policy may be developed to ensure fair competition between different content and service providers. However, a blanket open Internet policy could inadvertently undermine key policy objectives such as the promotion of innovation local content production and universal service’

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