GOP Kills Net Neutrality Bill, Focus Shifts to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski One day after the demise in Congress of legislation that would have protected net neutrality -- the principle that broadband providers shouldn't play favorites with web content -- all eyes have turned back the Federal Communications Commission, which is under mounting pressure to act on the issue.

Supporters of net neutrality have urged FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski (pictured) to reclassify broadband from a Title I "information service" to a Title II "communications service," which would give the commission the authority it needs to enforce net neutrality. The broadband companies have vigorously opposed such a move, saying it could lead to price controls and runaway litigation, while supporters argue that net neutrality is necessary to ensure innovation of the Internet.

On Thursday, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) urged the FCC, which has been caught in jurisdictional limbo ever since a federal judge ruled in April that the agency lacked the authority to enforce net neutrality, to reclassify broadband.

"While I appreciate all the work that has been done in the House on net neutrality, I continue to believe that the best way to preserve the free and open Internet is for the FCC to act now to reclassify broadband under Title II," Dorgan said in a statement.

"All of us who believe in an Internet without gatekeepers or tollbooths should be calling on the chairman to reclassify broadband in a manner that re-imposes the nondiscrimination rules on the large Internet providers," he added.

On Wednesday. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced that Republicans, led by ranking committee member Joe Barton (R-Texas) had refused to support a compromise bill that would have prevented phone and cable companies from discriminating against legal web content, while also protecting them "from the threat of reclassification for two years."

Lawmakers Spar Over Reclassification

"This development is a loss for consumers and a gain only for the extremes," Waxman said in a statement. "We need to break the deadlock on net neutrality so that we can focus on building the most open and robust Internet possible."

"If our efforts to find bipartisan consensus fail, the FCC should move forward under Title II," Waxman added. "The bottom line is that we must protect the open Internet. If Congress can't act, the FCC must."

Barton issued a statement opposing such a move, and even suggested that Congress could pass a law prohibiting reclassification. "It is not appropriate to give the FCC authority to regulate the Internet," Barton said. "If the Congress wants to prevent the FCC reclassifying Internet service under Title II, it should go ahead and do so without qualification."

"This is not a solution for the future of the Internet," Barton added. "America should be about preserving the vibrant and competitive free market that exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by federal or state regulation."

Interest Groups Urge FCC Action

Meanwhile, public interest groups that support net neutrality are calling on the FCC to move swiftly to reclassify broadband.

"We are in full agreement with Chairman Waxman that the FCC must act now to protect consumers by reinstating its authority over broadband," said Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, a pro-net neutrality group. "We expect the FCC to do so to carry out one of the fundamental promises of the Obama administration. Consumers for far too long have been without the legal protections the FCC can provide."

"We can wait no longer," Sohn added. "We expect those members of Congress who argued that it was Congress's duty to set telecommunications policy would recognize the authority of the FCC in the absence of legislation."

Other groups, including Free Press and the Consumer Federation of America, issued similar statements urging the FCC to act. And even Barry Diller, chairman of Web conglomerate IAC, on Wednesday strongly urged companies that operate on the Internet to back net neutrality.

"All of you have to get out there and start arguing for this strongly," Diller said during remarks at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference. "It is the lives of you all and the people coming after you: We have to protect that."

(TechCrunch agreed to be bought by AOL, the publisher of DailyFinance, on Sept. 28.)

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randmyan

Do you really what an unelected group of Govt bureaucrats controlling what is now a free and open medium for speech and content? Setting rules for what can and can't be published. Telling internet providers that they must comply with a govt bodies rules how much conservative speech is too much and how much liberal speech is too little. This another attempt by the progessives to control your free speech rights. If you control the ability to stop the free flow of ideas and speech then you have really taken a step forward in controlling the masses. Think China, Cuba and Iran.

October 01 2010 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
randmyan

Do you really what an unelected group of Govt bureaucrats controlling what is now a free and open medium for speech and content? Setting rules for what can and can't be published. Telling internet providers that they must comply with a govt bodies rules how much conservative speech is too much and how much liberal speech is too little. This another attempt by the progessives to control your free speech rights. If you control the ability to stop the free flow of ideas and speech then you have really taken a step forward in controlling the masses. Think China, Cuba and Iran.

October 01 2010 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
otterdad48

The end result of free market capitalism will be one single corporation that skims every last drop of profit and hoards of consumers in fuedal serfdom.

October 01 2010 at 8:46 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to otterdad48's comment
randmyan

Hey Otterdad read "Road to Serfdom" it is not capitalisnm that is your enemy it is your government and socialist ideas. If not capitalism then what? Socialism, Communism. If they are so great then why are all the countries that have tried them either moving away from them or have revolted against them. You see the riots in Europe now, they are in a direct response to the socialist practices and spending. Greece, Spain, France can no longer afford to pay for the wages and benefits they promised under their socialist regimes and now the people are rioting because they refuse to understand there is no more money. Read "Atlas Shrugs" or remember Margaret Thatchers comment "Socialism is great until you run out of other peoples money". Regulations Taxation and Redistribution these are the enemies of free people, free markets and most importantly individual Liberty. When your govt provides everything for you and the masses they will also tell you how to live, where you live, what you can eat. You are then nothing more than a slave waiting on your next check. This is not the road to prosperity. It is only those people who do not have the knowledge, will power or initative that will be left behind in a truly free market capitalist society. The incapable and unable should have some type of programs to help those who need a hand up, get up and the disabled and old should be provided what we can to make their lives safe and healthy, the rest of us should be free to be responsible and able to build our lives unencumbered by the govt. That is not what we have today in the USA but it is what the founders envisioned. Read Washington's "Farewell to the People".

October 01 2010 at 10:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
spmazanek

Hello! The GOP can't "kill" anything. They are in the minority in both houses of Congress and--correct me if I'm wrong--the Executive branch (that's the President for you libs who don't know how it works) is not in the GOP either. It failed because it is an election year and the even the Dems thought it might be a step too far in their attempts to strangle the First Amendment. Even the Fidel and Che Wing of the Democrat Party might begin to wonder "What's Up" if "Net Neutrality" was instituted.

September 30 2010 at 11:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
krp2

I believe that this articel is an example of free speech. Even though The title is inflammatory the author has every right to publish this on the internet without a censor reviewing its content thereby allowing the public to openly comment on it. Net neutrality would eliminate this although more likely from democrat/Progressives eliminating conservative commentary. It is time for a real revolution in that We the people need to get rid of these "Elites" who have little regard for the regular people because they believe we are too stupid to think for ourselves!! George Orwell was right. He was just off by a few decades!!!

September 30 2010 at 10:55 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
krp2

net neutrality is nothing more then disguised censorship being pushed by liberals who don't like conservative critics and want to silence them. Since they can't control dialogue legitimately they want to do it by force of law. Another attemp to limit free speech!!!

September 30 2010 at 10:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Bearmaul

What America needs to do is neutralize the democratic party and restore this country back to sanity.....Vote the Bums OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 30 2010 at 9:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jk399

"...protections the FCC can provide." Yes the FCC has had such a sterling record when it comes to free speech. And of course being that they are the "gate keepers" of radio and television, soon your internet will also be under censorship from an unelected board of people who cannot be challenged in court. Along with the internet wiretapping now being drawn up by the current administration, the internet will quickly become the sterile and barren wasteland that radio and television have become. Freedom of speech, expressions and ideas was THE REASON our country was #1 in innovation and imagination...which HELLO? ANYONE LISTENING?...was the reason we were also #1 in the global market. This will be one of the final nails in the coffin. Adios sheeple.

September 30 2010 at 8:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
pmac

As usual, the country continues to drift backwards due to the republican party. Their usual lies about competition and free markets disguise their true intention to allow their contributors monopoly power.

September 30 2010 at 7:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply