The House of Representatives has voted to overturn FCC net-neutrality rules that were approved in December, when Democrats held the majority, and which prompted a Verizon lawsuit.
The House of
Representatives has voted to overturn the net-neutrality rules that the Federal
Communications Commission proposed in December, when the Democrats, instead of
Republicans, held a majority of the House's seats.
The Feb. 17
vote was spearheaded by the Republicans, who believe the FCC overstepped its
authority in acting to regulate the Internet-or "to preserve the Internet as an
open network enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression ... and the freedom
to innovate," as FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat, phrased it at the
time-and seeks to block the funding to implement the
measure, approved in a voice vote, was added as an amendment to a spending
bill that will fund the government for the rest of its fiscal year, Reuters reported, but in order to become law,
it will need to pass in the Senate, where Democrats hold the majority of seats.
It then would need President Obama's signature.
At the heart
of the net-neutrality debate are generally three issues: transparency about the
practices of broadband providers and wireless carriers; whether to allow
providers to block access to competitors' applications or sites; and whether
all traffic should flow at the same speed, or faster access should be allowed
for those willing to pay for it.
matter Feb. 17, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said the new rules would bar
innovation and kill jobs.
presented his position in a statement released Feb. 16. In it, he noted that
historically the FCC has "agreed on a bipartisan basis on both the importance
of Internet freedom and openness, and on the idea that government action is
sometimes necessary to protect it." He goes on to say that in October 2009,
following the example of his Republican predecessor, he initiated a
comprehensive public process to set up "high-level rules of the road" for the
widely shared goal of preserving the Internet's freedom and openness.
he said, were numerous public workshops and hundreds of stakeholder
discussions, and what was learned was that a number of the nation's leading
investors and entrepreneurs believed "their willingness to deploy capital and
start and grow businesses was at risk without high-level rules of the road to
ensure the Internet would remain an open platform."
Genachowski said, heard from broadband providers that their engineers "need
discretion to manage their networks to address challenges such as spam and
congestion," from providers who said that, to earn a return on their
investments in network infrastructure, they need "flexibility to innovate with
respect to business models," and from others who said that "overly prescriptive
rules" would stifle innovation and investment. Consequently, a framework was
drawn up that he believes takes all sides into account and:
consumers' freedom to go where they want, use the lawful services they want,
and read and say what they want online. And it preserves the freedom for
innovators and entrepreneurs to launch new products, reach new markets, and
continue driving America's innovation economy. It also ensures a level playing
field. No central entity, public or private, should have the power to pick
which ideas or companies win or lose on the Internet; that's the role of the
free market and the marketplace of ideas.
December's approval of the new rules, some criticized it as diluted and
ineffectual, while others said it went too far.
taking the latter position, filed
a suit against the FCC Jan. 20, explaining in a statement that the FCC's
"assertion of authority goes well beyond any authority provided by Congress,
and creates uncertainty for the communications industry, innovators, investors
filed a suit as well. While in a statement the carrier's CEO and president
Roger D. Linquist said he had "concerns regarding the jurisdictional basis
for the Net-Neutrality rules," the rules would also prohibit the carrier's
practice of blocking Skype and other services that compete with its MetroStudio
As yet, all
matters remain unsettled.
Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.