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Few seem pleased with net neutrality proposal

It appears few are pleased with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s net neutrality proposal, handed down last week.

Strong advocates of net neutrality principles, who supported President Obama’s election, are crying foul. Internet service providers are claiming government interference. And virtually all Republicans in Congress and on the FCC oppose net neutrality. Even FCC Commissioner Michael Copps is lukewarm to the proposal because he says it’s not strong enough.

“This is a hysterical reaction by the FCC to a hypothetical problem. This would be a massive expansion of federal authority at a time when Americans want less government and will put a choke hold on job growth when we’re trying to create jobs,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN. “Chairman Genachowski has little if any Congressional support for ‘net neutrality’. He can expect this folly to be overturned in the New Year, and to ensure that, I will reintroduce my bill to pull the FCC from the policy making process on the first day of the 112th Congress.”

Josh Silver, president of the advocacy group Free Press, said the proposal is not even close to the real net neutrality principles that President Obama promised the American people in the presidential campaign.

“The proposed rule is riddled with loopholes and falls far short of what’s necessary to prevent phone and cable companies from turning the Internet into something that looks like cable TV, where they decide what moves fast, what moves slow, and whether they can price gouge you or not,” Silver said.

“You can call any policy net neutrality, but the devil is always in the details — and right now the details look grim,” Silver added.

The proposal received support from prominent venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, and there was both praise and complaint among companies that would be affected. The wireless phone company Sprint said that it “commends the FCC for the careful and deliberate approach it has taken on this issue.”

Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless phone company, was not impressed and said the plan would encourage congressional action.

“The FCC’s authority to act in this area is uncertain, and Congress has indicated a strong interest in addressing this issue,” said Thomas J. Tauke, a Verizon executive vice president.

Major phone and cable companies, including AT&T, Verizon Communications and Comcast, have argued that they should be allowed to manage their networks as they see fit.

Genachowski has spent the past several months trying to craft a compromise with the various companies. Now, with the Republican take-over of Congress, he has run out of time.