Waxman Throws Support to Network Neutrality
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce
Committee, threw his support behind network neutrality legislation Sept.
17. Speaking before an oversight hearing of the FCC (Federal
Communications Commission), Waxman said he would become a co-sponsor of
Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Anna Eschoo's (D-Calif.) Internet Freedom Preservation Act.
The legislation would make it illegal for a broadband ISP to block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair, or degrade the ability of any person to use an Internet access service to access, use, send, post, receive, or offer any lawful content, application or service through the Internet.
"Industry will benefit from clarity, consistency and predictability with regard to net neutrality," Waxman said in his comments. "I think that the time is right to formally establish, through legislation if required, the rules of the road with respect to net neutrality."
The bill is still considered a longshot, at best, considering most lawmakers' preference to leave network neutrality to the FCC, which currently rests its entire authority to enforce network neutrality on a legally shaky house of cards. Comcast has already legally challenged the FCC's four network neutrality principles.
But President Obama and new FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski have pledged to protect open networks and are both supporters of network neutrality. Under a mandate from Congress, the agency is preparing a national broadband plan that will most likely include a more legally defensible network neutrality framework.
"The fears some have professed that net neutrality rules will stifle network investment have proven unfounded over the years," Waxman said. "Most recently, over 2,200 public and private entities applied for broadband grants and, in so doing, opted-in to net neutrality rules."
Waxman also said network neutrality and strong copyright protection are not mutually exclusive goals. "In fact, clear net neutrality rules should help broadband network operators explore innovative steps designed to stop the theft of online content."