House rejects FCC net neutrality rules

On April 8, the U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 240-179, approved a measure to nullify FCC net neutrality rules adopted last year.

A similar piece of legislation in the Senate to reject the rules has 39 co-sponsors. Following the House vote, the Obama administration said a veto to protect the agency’s “Preserving the Open Internet” rules is a possibility if the Senate votes to overturn the rules. The commission’s net neutrality rules, adopted in December 2010, prevent carriers, such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, from discriminating against competitors by impeding the transport of content over their broadband networks.

Republicans backing the legislation have said the FCC lacks the authority to impose the net neutrality rules and that the government should stay out of regulating the Internet. In a press statement issued on his congressional website, Fred Upton, R-MI, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called the FCC’s net neutrality rules “overreaching” and said they would stifle innovation, investment and jobs in the private sector.

“Free market principles and consumer demand have been the driving forces of the Internet’s success and should remain so today,” Upton said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, speaking at the Free Press National Conference for Media Reform 2011 in Boston after the House vote said she didn’t think the Senate would support the House measure to nullify the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

In April 2010, a federal appeals court ruled the FCC did not have the authority to regulate Internet traffic under existing law. The case stemmed from the FCC’s response to steps taken by Comcast to slow BitTorrent file transfers by customers. The ruling prompted the FCC to try again, finding a different rationale for its authority to regulate Internet traffic management to ensure that content receive equal treatment by carriers.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.