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House Deals Blow to FCC’s Internet Rules

April 11, 2011 - News

The House of Representatives on Friday voted to overturn Federal Communications Commission rules that prohibit broadband providers from discriminating on their networks or blocking lawful applications and content.

Although the 240 to 179 vote dealt a blow to the FCC’s so-called Network neutrality rules, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said House Resolution 37 “undermines the open Internet and will not become law."

The resolution to overturn the FCC’s Open Internet Order faces potential hurdles at the Democrat-controlled Senate and the White House, which recently threatened a veto if the legislation gets approved by Congress.  

Republicans in both chambers of Congress have moved to overturn the FCC's rules through the Congressional Review Act.  A resolution in the Senate to throw out the rules has 39 co-sponsors.

“The House vote preserves the Internet and protects jobs and the economy by preventing an unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy from overstepping its authority," said Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “I strongly urge the Senate to follow the House’s action and end the marketplace uncertainty created by the FCC’s power grab."

FCC critics contend the rules are unnecessary and will stifle investment. Republicans also assert the FCC exceeded its authority.

Others claims the rules are warranted in order to keep the Internet free from interference by the large telephone and cable operators that control the Internet networks through which other companies like Netflix and Skype offer competing applications, content and services, such as movies that are streamed over the Web and Internet-based phone service.

“It is simply stunning that some members in the House are so out of touch with reality, or so beholden to the biggest phone and cable companies, that they would choose to move forward with this dangerous overreach that would fundamentally alter the future of the Internet," said Craig Aaron, incoming president and CEO of the Free Press Action Fund, the advocacy arm of Free Press, a nonprofit organization working to reform the media.

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