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Republican net neutrality proposal falls short, critics say

Grant Gross | Jan. 22, 2015
A Republican net neutrality proposal in the U.S. Congress would not fully protect broadband customers because it would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from enacting new rules against selectively blocking or throttling traffic, critics said Wednesday.

A net neutrality law passed by Congress would provide more legal certainty than an FCC regulation that will likely be challenged, Republicans argued.

Two past attempts by the FCC to pass net neutrality rules were thrown out by courts, Powell noted. The net neutrality struggle has been "long and torturous precisely because Congress has not established a clear foundation for the FCC to act," he said. "The commission has turned itself in knots for over 10 years trying to adopt a simple set of Internet regulations."

The draft proposal is an attempt at compromise and based partly on 2010 net neutrality rules adopted by a Democratic majority FCC, said subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican. The subcommittee is open to changing the proposal to address some of the criticisms raised, he said.

Congress has a responsibility to set U.S. Internet policy, and it should move the debate away from Title II, largely written more than 80 years ago to address a telephone monopoly, Walden said. "We have a very important choice to make, between letting three very smart and capable, but unelected, people at the FCC — the majority of the commission — use a statute written for another era to cobble together a regulatory scheme ... providing no protections but much uncertainty," he said.

 

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