Democratic Senators Block Republican-led Net Neutrality Repeal
November 11, 2011 9:11 AM
comment(s) - last by
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
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: OH GOOD
Dr of crap
Dr of crap
11/11/2011 12:45:33 PM
Did any of you read my first post?
Stop with the Us vs Them mentality, it shows you stupidity!
Once elected the a$$holes in office should vote what the ones who voted him in want, not what HIS F**ing party tells him to!
It's suppose to be solving the problems that come up ruling this country, not fighting with the other side over every freaking little detail!
RE: OH GOOD
11/11/2011 1:51:12 PM
That's the fun with two party system. Duopoly is not that different from monopoly and it's easy to divide into us and them. And no third(fourth, fifth or sixth) party to raise another question or choose different answer to existing one.
RE: OH GOOD
Dr of crap
Dr of crap
11/11/2011 2:58:30 PM
There's no FUN in it.
It all crap and we need MORE "sides",
and way LESS finger pointing and name calling.
"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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
Quick Note: Google Drive 100GB, 1TB Plans See Major Price Cuts
March 13, 2014, 2:45 PM
Target Missed Early Warning Signs of Holiday Data Breach
March 13, 2014, 1:45 PM
Amazon Increases Prime Subscription to $99/year Starting March 19
March 13, 2014, 8:23 AM
Bitcoin King's American Accounts Get Frozen
March 13, 2014, 3:00 AM
Time Warner Cable CEO Says Merger with Comcast is a "Dream Combination", Will Increase Innovation
March 12, 2014, 2:37 PM
North Carolina-based Company to Offer Gigabit Internet Before Google
March 12, 2014, 2:31 PM
Most Popular Articles
Bitcoin King Pt. II: Mt. Gox's Dictator Karpelès Proves Tragically Flawed
March 7, 2014, 1:12 PM
Windows 8.1 Update 1 Leaked Early
March 7, 2014, 9:30 AM
Hack Reveals Fallen Bitcoin CEO's Posh Tokyo Penthouse
March 10, 2014, 4:28 PM
Vine Users No Longer Allowed to Post Pornographic Videos
March 7, 2014, 1:47 PM
Staples Closing 225 Stores Across North America
March 7, 2014, 1:24 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
Global Cyber Espionage Concerns Reveal Growing Cyber Armies
Nov 29, 2013, 11:04 AM
Is The Period Becoming an Expression of Anger?
Nov 26, 2013, 2:02 PM
NSA and Congress -- You Will Never Kill the Constitution, It's an Idea
Nov 10, 2013, 2:00 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information