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Net neutrality faces uncertain future after House vote

Grant Gross | Feb. 22, 2011
Late last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a budget bill that included a prohibition on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission enforcing net neutrality rules, but it's unclear whether that provision will survive.

Art Brodsky, communications director for net neutrality supporter Public Knowledge, called the House provision "terribly misguided," but he wouldn't predict that the Senate would kill it. "Everything is on the table," he said.

It's hard to predict what will happen in the coming days, added Randolph May, president of the Free State Foundation, an antiregulation think tank. "It is certainly possible that in an effort to find a compromise that avoids a government shutdown, the cut-off of government funds will become a bargaining chip," May said. "And it is possible to envision a scenario in which the Senate Democrats accede to the House cut-off, or vice versa."

A continuing resolution would, at the longest, continue government funding until Sept. 30, after which the 2012 fiscal year budget begins, May noted. "This is only an early, and relatively minor, skirmish in a longer war," he said.

Tom Lenard, another critic of net neutrality rules, questioned if the House provision will survive.

"It's useful for the House to make clear that it believes the FCC has overstepped its authority with the net neutrality rules, whether or not this provision makes it through," said Lenard, president of the Technology Policy Institute, another antiregulation think tank. "It very well could end up being used as a bargaining chip but I think it is unlikely to make it into the final budget."

 

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