Benign Legislation

By Roy Mark  |  Posted 2008-02-14 Print this article Print

"Unreasonable discrimination by Internet providers is not currently a widespread problem, and isolated abuses have been addressed by the marketplace and the FCC," Pickering said in a statement. "This will allow the market to grow as the industry voluntarily maintains these freedoms, while providing oversight and accountability for maintaining openness and competitive choice."

Pickering, it should be noted, is retiring from Congress this year to take a Republican K Street lobbying job. Perhaps a veil has been lifted from Pickering's eyes or he's simply keeping a Republican hand in shaping broadband policy.

"We need to seek solutions like this one that expand freedom, competition and consumer choice rather than go down the road of unnecessary Internet regulation, while still providing a public process of accountability that ensures continued Internet openness and freedom," Pickering said.

Even the telcos seem a bit benign on Markey's legislation. Two days before Markey introduced his bill, Verizon Executive Vice President Tom Tauke told reporters that while he doesn't see the need for congressional action on network neutrality, guidelines for the industry would be helpful.

With or without the telcos' support, though, Markey's bill is not likely to become law in the 110th Congress, which hopes to adjourn and hit the campaign trail as shortly after Labor Day as possible. Even if Markey gets the bill out of committee and the House, the legislation would have to be approved by the Senate.

Senators Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, have already introduced their own network neutrality legislation, a far more ambitious bill that would prohibit broadband carriers from discriminatory practices such as pricing in handling traffic from Internet content, application and service providers.

The bill would also require carriers to offer consumers individual broadband service that is not bundled with television or telephone service.

Other Democrats signing onto Dorgan-Snowe legislation include presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.


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