WASHINGTON, October 31, 2009 - This week Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., added to the growing number of network neutrality-related bills when she filed legislation that would ban the Federal Communications Commission from regulating internet access, as proposed last week by Chairman Julius Genachowski.
Blackburn’s measure, H.R. 3924, is intended “to prohibit the FCC from further regulating the Internet.”
In a statement, she said FCC rules “ironically would make the Internet less neutral by allowing the FCC to regulate it in the same way it regulates radio and television broadcasts.”
She said is concerned that potential rules would decrease the Internet’s efficiency, interrupt the flow of free ideas and information, and hurt the ability of industry to protect intellectual property online. The Blackburn bill currently has 19 co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Also, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had introduced legislation, S.1836 on October 22 that would prevent further FCC regulation of the Internet. In a statement, he said that the “government takeover of the Internet will stifle innovation, in turn slowing our economic turnaround and further depressing an already anemic job market.” He said the wireless industry exploded over the past 20 years due to limited government regulation – but has been hurt recently by state and federal regulations. McCain’s measure has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
From the opposite perspective, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., remains a vocal supporter of the network neutrality concept. “The Internet enables innovation without permission, and we need to ensure that special interests cannot erect toll booths on the information superhighway that impede the innovation that has helped power our economy and create jobs,” he said this month.
Markey filed pro-Net neutrality legislation, H.R.3458, in July. Markey’s bill has eight cosponsors, including House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif.
Waxman, along with Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chairman John D. (“Jay”) Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., sent a letter this month in support of the FCC’s proposed rules.
In September, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., a co-author of Markey’s legislation, voiced support for the FCC’s plan to go ahead with the rules. She noted in a statement that the area she represents, Silicon Valley, “has a long history of support for open networks.” She said she was one of the first House members to introduce net neutrality legislation in the House.
Other lawmakers continue to weigh in on the net neutrality debate without legislation. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, the Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, said in a statement on October 23 that she was concerned about how the FCC’s proposed rules could impact the investment incentives and decisions of small rural communications providers.