April 10, 2011

House Denies FCC Net Neutrality Rules

The House of Representatives voted to reject Internet "neutrality" rules on Friday.

The rules were adopted last year to help keep Internet service providers from blocking certain traffic.

House Republicans pushed through a measure disapproving the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) rules.  Tech and telecom giants like Verizon and Communications Inc. and Microsoft Corp could be affected.

A similar decision has been offered in theSenate, but the White House said on Monday that President Barack Obama's advisors would recommend that he veto any such resolution.

The FCC rules banned Internet service providers from blocking traffic on their networks, while allowing providers to "reasonably" manage their networks and charge consumers based on usage.

Republicans said in House debate that the FCC's rules needlessly impose government regulation on the Internet.

"The FCC has never had the authority to regulate the Internet," said Republican Representative Cliff Stearns.

House Republican Leader Eric Cantor called the House's vote "an important step to bring down the FCC's harmful and partisan plan to regulate the Internet."

Democrats say the rules are needed to curb the growing market power of large service providers.

Disapproving the FCC rules "would give big phone and cable companies control over what websites Americans can visit, what applications they can run, and what devices they can use," Democratic Representative Henry Waxman argued during the debate.

Democratic Representative Anna Eshoo said the Republican push against the FCC's rules was "an ideological assault on a federal agency and its ability to provide basic consumer protections."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed challenges to the FCC rules that had been filed by Verizon and Metro PCS Communications Inc., ruling the challenges to be premature.

"In most parts of the country, companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast have a virtual monopoly over access to the Internet," Waxman said. "Without regulation, they can choke off innovation by charging for the right to communicate with their customers."


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