A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that regulators had limited power over Web traffic under current law. The decision will allow Internet service companies to block or slow specific sites and charge video sites like YouTube to deliver their content faster to users.
The court decision was a setback to efforts by the Federal Communications Commission to require companies to give Web users equal access to all content, even if some of that content is clogging the network.
The court ruling, which came after Comcast asserted that it had the right to slow its cable customers’ access to a file-sharing service called BitTorrent, could prompt efforts in Congress to change the law in order to give the F.C.C. explicit authority to regulate Internet service.