During a Communications and Technology Subcommittee Hearing on Wednesday, House Republicans pushed for a resolution to eliminate ‘net neutrality’ rules recently adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The committee passed the resolution, with all 15 Republicans voting to repeal the rules and all 9 Democrats voting against it.
The ‘net neutrality’ regulations, approved by the FCC in December 2010, require internet service providers (ISPs) to allow their customers to have access all legal online content, applications and services over their wired networks and prohibit unreasonable network discrimination.
The new rules are meant to “preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet” but Republican critics have said the regulations amount to a “government takeover of the Internet.”
“Today we have a hearing and markup on network neutrality and H. J. Res. 37, the resolution of disapproval I introduced to stop the FCC from regulating the Internet,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) explained. “There is no crisis warranting the FCC’s deviation from our historical hands-off approach. Rather than show an actual problem, the FCC relies on speculation of future harm.”
Because Rep. Walden introduced the resolution under the Congressional Review Act, it only requires a simply majority in each chamber of Congress to pass and cannot be filibustered. In addition, the resolution cannot be amended.
“There is no crisis warranting intervention,” House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said in his opening statement. “The Internet is open and thriving precisely because we have refrained from regulating it.
“Imposing these rules will cause more harm than good by chilling the very investment and innovation we need to ensure the Internet keeps pace with the growing demands being placed on it,” he added.
In contrast to Republican critics, Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner claimed the ‘net neutrality’ regulations did not go far enough to protect consumers.
“Members of this body may be uncomfortable with the precise contours of the FCC’s rules,” Turner said in his testimony to the committee. “Free Press, too, ultimately opposed the FCC’s final order because we felt that it failed to adequately preserve and protect the open Internet.”
“But the passage of this Resolution of Disapproval will leave consumers completely unprotecte,” he continued. “It will remove the FCC’s current weak, industry-blessed rules and prevent the FCC from addressing the most blatant forms of discrimination and anti-competitive activities at any point in the future.”
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