Republicans Put Net Neutrality in Jeopardy

The New York Times
By Vikas Bajaj
6/12/15

Many Republican lawmakers hated regulations that the Federal Communications Commission approved earlier this year to prevent cable and phone companies from creating fast and slow lanes on the Internet. Now, they are trying to undermine those rules through an appropriations bill.

House Republicans have introduced a bill that would effectively suspend the commission’s net neutrality rules, which go into effect on Friday. The agency could not use its budget to enforce the rules until there is a “final disposition” of three court cases brought against it by the telecommunications industry. That could take several years, because these cases might well end up at the Supreme Court. On Thursday, the United States Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a request by the industry to suspend the commission’s regulations while the court hears arguments in those cases.

What is particularly insidious about this provision is that it is part of a bill that appropriates money to the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission and various other critical government agencies. Republicans like Representative Andrew Crenshaw, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services, want to make it hard for President Obama to veto the measure by putting it in legislation that keeps the government functioning.

In trying to thwart the F.C.C., Republican lawmakers are going against the wishes of the vast majority of Americans. A 2014 poll by the University of Delaware found that 81 percent of Americans oppose the idea that broadband companies like Comcast and Verizon should be able to charge companies like Netflix fees to deliver their content to users faster than information from other sources. This is just the kind of practice that the commission’s new rules would prohibit.

The appropriations bill has a long way to go before it can become law. It has to be approved the House Appropriations Committee, the full House, the Senate and Mr. Obama. Lawmakers who understand the importance of the Internet should make every effort to make sure the anti-net neutrality provision is removed from the bill.

The FCC approves strong net neutrality rules

The Washington Post
By Cecilia Kang and Brian Fung
2/26/15

The Federal Communications Commission for the first time classified Internet providers as public utilities Thursday, a landmark vote that officials said will prevent cable and telecommunications companies from controlling what people see on the Web.

The move, approved 3 to 2 along party lines, was part of a sweeping set of new “net neutrality” rules aimed at banning providers of high-speed Internet access such as Verizon and Time Warner Cable from blocking Web sites they don’t like or auctioning off faster traffic speeds to the highest bidders…

…The rules ban Internet providers from several specific activities: They can’t block or stop Web services such as Netflix. They can’t slow down or “throttle” content from particular Web sites. And they can’t speed up a Web site’s traffic, particularly in exchange for money.

The rules also apply to wireless carriers such as Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile, which provide Internet service to tens of millions of smartphones and tablets….
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Net neutrality to dominate D.C.’s tech agenda

Net neutrality to dominate D.C.’s tech agenda

The FCC will soon issue a new set of Open Internet rules, and Republicans in Congress are already making plans to push back.
By Tony Romm, PoliticoPro
12/29/14

…The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is racing to write rules that require Internet service providers to treat all Web traffic equally…Some GOP members are planning to use their soon-to-be majority status to knock down the FCC’s net neutrality actions…The FCC finds itself back at the drawing board on net neutrality after its previous set of rules…drew a lawsuit from Verizon and ultimately was tossed by a federal court. It’s been left to current FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to craft a new net neutrality regime that can withstand another anticipated legal challenge from telecom companies while still satisfying Democrats and consumer groups, who pine for tough new protections. Wheeler stumbled with his early proposal — a draft that critics said would permit pay-for-play Internet ‘fast lanes’…Republicans, who oppose any net neutrality rules at all…The (National Cable and Telecommunications Association) has argued that net neutrality rules issued under Title II would prompt a spike in consumers’ broadband bills…Net neutrality also has featured prominently in the FCC’s review of two megamergers. Comcast, which is seeking regulatory approval for its $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable, for months has touted that it’s already bound by net neutrality rules. The cable giant agreed to heed the FCC’s previous open Internet order as a condition of its 2011 purchase of NBC Universal, though that commitment is set to expire in 2018. AT&T has promised it will adhere to the same rules for three years, if it gets the nod to acquire DirecTV for $48.5 billion. At the same time, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon have made it clear to the FCC that they overwhelmingly oppose any effort to treat broadband as a utility… (more)