Supreme Court saves AOL from users

Uncommon carrier

A bunch of miffed AOL subscribers today saw their three-year battle to sue America Online stomped all over.

The Supreme Court refused to have the case dragged up again - despite accusations that the ISP had imposed unjust charges and cocked-up customer privacy protection.

It turned down the subscribers' argument that the US company should be considered a "common carrier" - which would have brought it under the regulation of the US Federal Communications Commission.

The case stems back to March 1997, when four AOL users filed a class-action lawsuit in Los Angeles, claiming that the US giant was in violation of the 1934 Communications Act.

At the time a Federal judge threw out the case saying ISPs did not fall into this category. This decision was echoed by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which said ISPs escaped being branded common carriers because they provided enhanced services instead of basic communication services. ®

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