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Even if the repeal had passed the Senate, President Obama had promised to veto it

After months of threats and debating, the Republican leadership in Congress moved forward with plans to block the U.S. Federal Communication Commission (FCC) from rolling out basic net neutrality rules, which prevent landline internet carriers from throttling the user's connection, charging on a per website basis, or engaging in other tactics designed to slow some sites' load times and speed others' up.

I. Republicans Push for Net Neutrality Ban

As Republicans control the House of Representatives, the key battleground in the repeal effort would be the Senate.   Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) sponsored the repeal resolution, S.J. Res. 6.

Sen. Hutchinson took a hard stance, arguing that ISPs should be allowed to charge users on a per-site basis and throttle as they wish, without regulation.  She comments, "The internet and technology have produced more jobs in this country than just about any other sector.  It has been the cradle of innovation, it does not have a problem, and it does not need fixing."

Others in her party took a softer approach.  Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) wrote a "dear colleague" letter to her fellow Republicans.  In it she wrote that she felt that net neutrality regulation was necessary to protect consumer abuse.  But she argued the proper place for it was through the Senate, not the FCC.

But if "pro-net neutrality" Republicans senators had an alternative plan they failed to propose it in concrete form.  And it was unclear when or if a replacement to the current rules would be drafted if repeal was pass -- or for that matter whether a net neutrality bill could past muster in the House and Senate given many Republicans absolute opposition to anything standing in the way of ISPs' efforts to increase profits by cutting back and restructuring regional internet services.

The hardline Republicans like Sen. Hutchinson who flatly opposed any regulation argued that regulation would kill jobs.  Sen. Hutchinson pointed to industry studies that claimed net neutrality regulation would slow infrastructure deployment, and by proxy reduce jobs.

The Republican-controlled House had passed a net neutrality repeal measure in February 2011.

President Obama threatened to veto S.J. Res. 6

II. Democrats Warn That Repeal Would Kill Innovation, Free Speech

The repeal had Democratic President Barack Obama concerned enough that he threatened to veto the bill [PDF] if it should pass, with his office writing in a release, "If the President is presented with S.J. Res. 6, which would not safeguard the free and open Internet, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the Resolution."

But this dramatic game of political theater end rather mundanely as the Democratic majority in the Senate rallied together in opposition of the resolution.  Sen. John "Jay" Rockefeller IV, the great-grandson of famous oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, led the opposition commenting:
There's still 53 of us, and if we stay together we'll win.  I think we're going to prevail.  Even if they don't, they'll still have the backing of the White House, which has already threatened to veto the resolution, should it survive past the Senate floor. It would be ill-advised to threaten the very foundations of innovation in the Internet economy and the democratic spirit that has made the Internet a force for social progress around the world.

III. Wednesday's Fiery Debate

Here's some video coverage of Wednesday's debate, which preceded a vote:

Democratic Perspective (~3 min)

Republican perspective (~17 min, but starts off strong)

IV. Democrats Emerge Triumphant

Sen. Rockefeller's stand paid off.  The final vote was tallied yesterday and showed all 52 Democrats voting opposing the measure, and all 46 Republicans voting in favor of the measure.  The bill was thus defeated, clearing the way for the FCC's new net neutrality rules to go into effect next week.  

Two senators did not vote -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Senator Dan Inouye (D-Haw.).  It appears that Sen. Inouye was at an event in Washington, D.C. honoring a Japanese veteran of World War II.  It was unclear why John McCain -- who had previously led the charge against net neutrality -- did not vote.

V. Legal Challenges Remain

The rejection of the repeal resolution now leaves the various lawsuits against the rules as the only thing standing in their way.  Interestingly, advocacy groups have also opposed the rules claiming they do not go far enough, and unfairly exempt mobile devices from their provisions.  Several groups have pursued legal action.

The Media Access Project, who had been suing on the grounds of the lax approach to mobile regulation, dropped its legal action after it saw its case assigned to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  Policy Director Andrew Jay Schwartzman explained that his organization feared a hostile atmosphere in that particular court would kill the case.  He comments, "The D.C. Circuit Court is a very hostile forum.  [It would be a] very close case."

That leaves The Free Press, who is suing on similar grounds.  Strangely The Free Press's President and CEO Craig Aaron -- leading the suit against the rules -- cheered the Democratic success in block their repeal in the Senate.  He comments, "The Senate sent a strong signal today to would-be gatekeepers that the free and open internet needs to stay that way.  The American public doesn't want phone and cable companies undercutting competition, deciding which websites will work or censoring what people can do online."

Most public advocacy groups lauded the vote, while saying the rules still should be extended farther.  Among them is the American Civil Liberties Union.  In a post entitled "It Was Close, But We Won: Viva Net Neutrality!" ACLU Washington, D.C. staffer Sandra Fulton writes:
Though the FCC’s rules are not great, they do offer some protections for net neutrality on the wired Internet and overturning them would have been a huge setback for free speech on the web. During debate on the Senate floor yesterday supporters of the resolution railed against government regulation while opponents defended the rules saying they were necessary to maintain the openness and innovation that has allowed the Internet to thrive.

On the other side of the spectrum, there's also a suit from Verizon Wireless, the joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD).  It's hard to understand why Verizon decided to sue the FCC, given that the Commission's proposal closely mirrors that which a Verizon - Google, Inc. (GOOGpact proposed in Aug. 2010.  The rules offer virtually no regulation on mobile internet service providers -- just as Verizon requested.

Verizon's lawsuit will be heard in the Spring or Summer.  In the meantime Verizon could request in court that the rules be suspended pending the outcome of the lawsuit.  The FCC has already taken a preemptive strike, moving to dismiss Verizon's lawsuit on legal technicalities.

The Democratic-majority FCC under the Obama administration has been quite busy.  It is currently in the process of finalizing a spectrum auction, an effort carriers laud but some TV broadcaster loathe.  It's also assisting the U.S. Department of Justice in its case against AT&T, Inc. (T) who is trying to engulf T-Mobile USA -- a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG (ETR:DTE) -- a move which would grant it a virtual monopoly on 3G GSM technology in the U.S.

Sources: Senate, The White House, Engadget, ACLU

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It just goes to show....
By room200 on 11/11/2011 10:21:01 AM , Rating: 2
I'm glad the democrats triumphed here. With some trying to throttle the internet, charge taxes on internet purchases, and other such nonsense, it threatens the very nature of what the internet is all about.

RE: It just goes to show....
By Zaranthos on 11/11/11, Rating: 0
RE: It just goes to show....
By superPC on 11/11/2011 10:39:04 AM , Rating: 5
do you know how that problem fixed itself? because your government has REGULATION forbidding any anticompetitive and monopolistic tactics. that makes it possible for smaller company to compete fairly with larger company, and that's how you got your cheaper price.

without that regulation your one ISP would use their money and pressure the smaller competitor unfairly and you will be paying a lot more.

RE: It just goes to show....
By Zaranthos on 11/11/2011 10:54:42 AM , Rating: 2
No because they broke up the big company that would have had internet here years earlier otherwise. My friends dad worked for that monopoly which shelved all it's internet plans when they were busted up. It took years for the little companies to get to the point where they could upgrade the infrastructure needed for decent internet. There are pros and cons obviously.

RE: It just goes to show....
By idiot77 on 11/11/2011 11:14:00 AM , Rating: 2
Great inductive thinking there, most of us grew up and stopped doing that at about age 5.

RE: It just goes to show....
By Rob Noxious on 11/11/2011 12:49:56 PM , Rating: 2

RE: It just goes to show....
By gladiatorua on 11/11/2011 1:54:10 PM , Rating: 2
In a lot of cases you DON'T have a free market. It's not a free market where there is a government-pushed monopoly or duopoly. Especially in case of telecoms.

RE: It just goes to show....
By alphadogg on 11/14/2011 10:44:07 AM , Rating: 2
"in a free market without a bunch of rules problems tend to fix themselves"

LOL. I laugh at how such people call communism "idealistic" and then spew this crap. Yeah, everything magically fixes itself in Laissez-Fairy Land! Right.

RE: It just goes to show....
By Kurz on 11/15/2011 10:30:26 AM , Rating: 2
Its funny they often do just fix themselves.
The issue is there has to be a demand for the percieved fault to be fixed.

RE: It just goes to show....
By autoboy on 11/11/2011 2:43:42 PM , Rating: 2
LOL. You have no idea what you are talking about. It's the government that wants to levy taxes on internet activity and they want to be able to regulate the internet. This regulation doesn't outlaw throttling. It puts the FCC in charge of deciding who gets throttled and who doesn't.

What you really want is for things to stay the same as they have been. A free and open internet. Well, even though this bill is nicely named, it does exactly the opposite of what you want. It applies FCC regulations on the once free and open internet that you so love. Free speech my ass. Is TV a bastian of free speech? You can't even say fuck on TV. The internet has been the only truly free market in our lifetime and that is because it was a brand new market that lawmakers hadn't figured out how to regulate yet. It was a true free market and that's why it's been able to grow so quickly.

RE: It just goes to show....
By room200 on 11/11/2011 10:48:48 PM , Rating: 2
You just pulled all of that crap out of your arse.

RE: It just goes to show....
By Reclaimer77 on 11/12/2011 2:35:03 AM , Rating: 2
Thank you man. You get it. I do not understand how people can still be so clueless as to why the Government is getting involved in this. I don't get it! How can people still be this gullible and ignorant?

The Government is NOT a bunch of fluffy bunnies that care about you. If they want Net Neutrality, it's because it will give them power and control. Look at EVERY GODDAMN THING they've ever got involved in.

The Internet is the last bastion of free speech and artistic expression on the planet. And it evolved into that without ANY Government regulations or controls placed on it. Think about it people.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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