Obama pledges to protect 'net neutrality' rules

Wed Nov 9, 2011 2:31pm EST

* Obama will veto anti-net neutrality measure if it passes

* Senate expected to vote on resolution on Thursday

By Jasmin Melvin

Nov 9 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama pledged to veto a congressional measure that would overturn new U.S. Internet traffic rules, his staff tweeted to his Twitter account on Wednesday.

Adopted by a divided Federal Communications Commission last December, the Internet rules forbid broadband providers from blocking legal content while leaving flexibility for providers to manage their networks.

Republicans have criticized the rules, slated to go into effect Nov. 20, as needless government regulation of the Internet that represents an unprecedented power grab by the FCC.

A Senate resolution to disapprove the rules is being debated on the Senate floor on Wednesday. A vote on the measure is expected on Thursday.

A similar measure passed 240-179 in the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives in April.

Analysts have said it is unlikely the measure will move out of the Democrat-led Senate.

The Obama administration and Democratic lawmakers have argued that the so-called net neutrality rules bring certainty and predictability to the broadband economy.

"Any effort to disrupt or unsettle that certainty, which has been widely supported by industry, will only undermine innovation and investment in this space," an FCC spokesman said.

For the past 10 years, the possibility of regulations to mandate the neutrality of the Internet -- in terms of restrictions on content, sites, platforms and types of equipment that may be attached -- has been the subject of fierce debate.

The FCC's rulemaking was prompted by a U.S. federal appeals court ruling last year that the FCC lacked the authority to stop Comcast Corp from blocking bandwidth-hogging applications on its broadband network.

The rules, adopted in a 3-2 vote, ensure consumer access to huge movie files and other content while allowing Internet service providers to manage their networks to prevent congestion.

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