Democratic Senators Block Republican-led Net Neutrality Repeal
November 11, 2011 9:11 AM
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
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
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
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
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
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
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. (
) and Vodafone Group Plc. (
). It's hard to understand why Verizon
decided to sue the FCC
, given that the Commission's proposal
that which a Verizon - Google, Inc. (
pact 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. (
) who is trying to engulf T-Mobile USA -- a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG (
) -- a move which would
grant it a virtual monopoly on 3G GSM technology
in the U.S.
The White House
"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
FCC Files Paperwork to Dismiss Verizon's Anti-Net-Neutrality Suit
October 7, 2011, 8:12 AM
Verizon Sues the FCC for "Capricious" Net Neutrality Rules
October 3, 2011, 8:57 AM
AT&T Admits Consumers May See Some Harm if It's Granted GSM Monopoly
September 12, 2011, 8:53 AM
U.S. House Votes to Allow Cable Providers to Throttle Internet
February 18, 2011, 11:04 AM
FCC Gives Internet Firms the Gift of Net Neutrality
December 25, 2010, 3:20 PM
Smartphone ‘Orders’ body to treat diabetes
April 29, 2017, 7:06 AM
Science & Environment
February 20, 2017, 6:37 AM
The USA’s newest weather satellite sends first photos.
January 24, 2017, 6:41 AM
Netflix took a decision to invest in original content
January 19, 2017, 7:00 AM
Amazon Airborne Fulfillment Center – Your Merchandise Drop-Shipped from the Clouds
December 29, 2016, 5:00 AM
Amazon is experimenting with a new kind of grocery stores, Amazon Go
December 8, 2016, 5:00 AM
Most Popular Articles
Motorola Moto G5 Pus – Well Worth Considering Over the Others
April 25, 2017, 7:06 AM
Surface Pro 5 Rumors - New Release Date and Price
April 22, 2017, 6:45 AM
Xiaomi Mi 6 - Flash Sale on April 28 in China
April 26, 2017, 7:45 AM
HTC’s newest phone – HTC U 11 coming May 16th
April 24, 2017, 7:21 AM
Meet the Smartphone with four cameras - Alcatel Flashphone
April 5, 2017, 11:20 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Galaxy Note 8 – Available Second Half 2017
Apr 28, 2017, 7:30 AM
Google Android App – Huge improvement on Nighttime Photography
Apr 27, 2017, 7:40 AM
Google Co-Founder, Sergey Brin has an Airship
Apr 26, 2017, 6:43 AM
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus – Lots of Glass that Breaks Easily
Apr 25, 2017, 7:20 AM
Samsung Galaxy S8 – Warning for Pet Owners
Apr 24, 2017, 5:59 AM
Sound Bars and the Costs?
Apr 23, 2017, 6:30 AM
Link your Brain to Your Computer – In Four Years…Maybe
Apr 22, 2017, 7:03 AM
Google Home can now identify users by their voice.
Apr 21, 2017, 7:15 AM
Amazon Lex – Now Available for Developers.
Apr 20, 2017, 6:58 AM
You can now use Instagram offline on your Android Smartphone
Apr 19, 2017, 8:00 AM
Now you can livestream to YouTube from your mobile device.
Apr 18, 2017, 8:05 AM
Google Home – Is It a Spy Device?
Apr 17, 2017, 7:30 AM
Apple added to self –driving test permit list
Apr 15, 2017, 6:21 AM
Project Scorpio – Coming on June 11
Apr 14, 2017, 6:20 AM
Looks Like Samsung Has Been Forgiven.
Apr 13, 2017, 6:50 AM
United Airlines - Blasted on China’s Social Network and the Stock Market
Apr 12, 2017, 6:50 AM
Amazon's Third-Party Sellers Hacked
Apr 11, 2017, 6:25 AM
Microsoft Surface Pro5 Details Revealed
Apr 9, 2017, 6:41 AM
Own An Android Phone? Then you could be hacked over Wi-FI
Apr 7, 2017, 6:47 AM
Apple confirms iOS 10.3 bug and its effect on iCloud Services
Apr 6, 2017, 6:30 AM
Apple Rolls Out New Version of Apple Music
Apr 5, 2017, 10:35 AM
Apple in the News
Apr 4, 2017, 9:03 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information