This week's "net neutrality" ruling appeared to give Internet providers the right to punish companies like Netflix with extra fees for gobbling up all their bandwidth. Is Netflix doomed?
That's the question many people are asking, but it's really two separate questions. The first question is: Did this court decision kill net neutrality forever? The second, related, question is: If Internet providers like Verizon force Netflix to pay, is Netflix's business model doomed?
Despite the company's sharp stock hit just after this week's decision broke, there's good reason to think the answer to both questions is a hearty no.
First, a definition: "Net neutrality" is the idea that Internet providers like Verizon can't discriminate against certain types of data. They can't make Netflix stream slower than TheAtlantic.com (or Quartz), and they can't make Netflix (or TheAtlantic.com) pay extra to get the same treatment.
Although this week's ruling killed the FCC's current net neutrality rule, it didn't kill net neutrality. In fact, it ruled FCC still has sweeping powers to protect an equal and open Internet, by reaffirming the FCC's broad regulatory authority over broadband providers. In an angry dissenting opinion, DC Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman wrote that the ruling gave "the FCC virtually unlimited power to regulate the Internet" in the future.