Senate Upholds FCC Open Internet Rules

FCC, Net Neutrality, Senate November 11th, 2011

, Deputy Editor,

WASHINGTON Friday November 10, 2011. Thursday afternoon, the Senate voted 52 – 46 to defeat S.J Res 6 which would have overturned the Federal Communication Commissions Open Internet Rules.

The rules are now set to go into effect on Nov 20, but they still face challenges in the courts from companies like Metro PCS, Verizon that argue, the FCC has over stepped its authority.  Free Press is also challenging the rules in court arguing that the rules do not go far enough in keeping the internet open and neutral.

We put together a couple highlights and statements from Senators over the past couple of days to share.

Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Commerce Sub Committee on Communications Technology and the Internet released a statement after the vote saying, “This is a victory for innovation, consumers, and common sense.  Today, the Senate refused to hand over the Internet to a small group of corporate interests, and we need to keep up the fight because we know this isn’t the last we’ve heard of the assault on net neutrality.”

Kerry, in his statements in front of the Senate on Wednesday said that the argument that the FCC is going to regulate the internet is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing argument.”  He added, “The truth is that if the rules are overturned, every innovator on the Internet will be exposed to the risk that before they innovate, before they create a new product, they’re going to have to go to somebody and say, “Mother, may I do this?”, and then there will be a price attached to that.”

Kerry then compared the Net Neutrality debate to the popular Occupy Wall Street Protests, “The other side is coming here and trying to create a new structure where the process will be gamed once again in favor of the most powerful. I mean, this is really part of the whole debate that’s going on in America today about the 99% who feel like everything is gamed against them and the system is geared by the people who have the money and the people who have the power who get what they want. That’s what this debate is about.”

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) expressed his disapproval of the Resolution on the Senator floor by stating “When this resolution of disapproval passed the House back in April, I hoped that would be the end of it. I hoped that my colleagues would recognize that we should let agencies do their jobs-and not employ an arcane procedure to erase a rule that the FCC started thinking about in 2004 under Republican Chairman Michael Powell, and again in 2005 when a different Republican Chairman, this time, Kevin Martin adopted a unanimous policy statement on net neutrality.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke on Wednesday as a strong supporter of the resolution to overturn the “”What we hear from businesses is that they need the regulatory agencies to follow the rule of law and strike a proper balance between the many important national interests that our laws protect. And when it comes to regulation, in my opinion, this administration has gone further. They have pushed past that rule of law in striking that proper balance. What we’re seeing is a level of overreach that I think is unprecedented by the agencies reaching out, expanding their jurisdiction, if you will, and working to advance or setting policy as opposed to just implementing the laws that have been passed.”

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce and Transportation Committee repeatedly stated that the Resolution that she introduced was necessary to prevent the administration from imposing destructive regulations that will freeze the economy and cause a loss of jobs.

We think it is interesting that Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) a former supporter of Net Neutrality sent a letter to the Senate on Monday encouraging them to support the resolution of disapproval on the premise that the FCC should refrain from rulemaking until Congress has developed a proper framework for the openness of the internet.

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