Sen. Hutchison Seeks to Block Open Internet Regulation

FCC, Net Neutrality December 20th, 2010

, Deputy Editor,

WASHINGTON, December 20, 2010 -Texas Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison has introduced an amendment to block the Federal Communications Commission from implementing any open internet regulations. The amendment would be added to the appropriations bill (H.R. 3082), which provides funding for the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

The amendment prohibits the FCC from adopting or implementing any open internet rules, protocols or standards. It also prevents any “rules, protocols, or standards regulating the behavior of broadband Internet access service providers with respect to discrimination of broadband traffic, network management practices, managed services, specialized services, or paid prioritization.”

“The FCC chairman’s attempt to impose new government regulations on the internet is unnecessary government overreach that will stifle future innovation,” said Hutchison. The amendment is being co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, John Cornyn of Texas, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, John Ensign of Nevada, Johnny Isaakson of Georgia, John Thune of South Dakota, and Roger Wicker of MIssissippi.

Senate support for the open internet proceedings has been mixed. With Democratic Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, and Ron Wyden of Oregon urging the chairman to act to protect the open internet. “We have supported that process and support the President’s goal of protecting and preserving an open Internet. We are also well aware that it is always easier to criticize the policy-making process than it is to make good policy – and as a result you have taken incoming fire from all sides,” the wrote to the chairman.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) supports an open internet but opposes the current proposal since he says it does not go far enough to protect consumers. “If this order is adopted as drafted, it would be the first time in the commission’s history that it effectively legitimated blatantly discriminatory conduct on the Internet — against lawful applications, content, and devices,” Franken said.

Meanwhile, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in an interview with the Huffington Post that he supports the proposal which FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has laid out. “There’s a little disconnect between the reality of net neutrality and the big fight of net neutrality,” said Leibowitz.

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