Senate defeats effort to block Internet rules

WASHINGTON Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:49pm EST

Unemployed operations manager Mary Kay Coyne points to a job listing on an employment website at her residence in Sewell, New Jersey, July 7, 2011. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

Unemployed operations manager Mary Kay Coyne points to a job listing on an employment website at her residence in Sewell, New Jersey, July 7, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Tim Shaffer

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New U.S. Internet traffic rules cleared a hurdle on Thursday, surviving an attempt by the Senate to block them from taking effect later in the month.

President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats in the Senate blocked a Republican-backed resolution to disapprove of the Federal Communications Commission's rules on "net neutrality." The vote was 52-46 against the resolution.

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

The rules still face a court challenge. Lawsuits by Verizon Communications Inc and others have been consolidated before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The Senate resolution was championed by Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the top Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, and had 42 co-sponsors, all Republican. A similar measure passed the Republican-led House of Representatives in April.

Regulations to mandate the neutrality of the Internet -- in terms of content, sites, platforms and types of equipment that may be attached -- have been the subject of fierce debate for the last 10 years.

The dispute pits content providers, who seek protection against the blocking or degrading of their services, against Internet service providers who often supply rival content and fear their networks could be overwhelmed.

The FCC's rules allow consumers and entrepreneurs to utilize the Internet "without having to ask permission from their broadband provider," Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said on Wednesday.

Backers of net neutrality say big providers could otherwise use their gatekeeper role to discriminate against competitors.

But Republicans said the rules were an unprecedented power grab by the FCC.

Hutchinson said the rules were yet another example of the "Obama administration's relentless imposition of new and destructive regulations... (that) are freezing our economy."

The FCC rules are scheduled to go into effect on November 20.

(Reporting by Jasmin Melvin; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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Comments (2)
Myche wrote:
It seems that it is the Republicans who are proposing government regulation and not the Democrats. The Democrats are keeping the internet free of Republican regulation which could turn the internet over to the wealthy and powers that be. Current government regulations only keep the internet highway open for freedom of access. Even by proposing and voting on this bill make the Republican party guilty of wanting more government and more government regulation in our lives which will require us to go through the portals of their proposed law every time we cruise on the internet highway. All the current regulations do is insure that moneyed interests do not dominate and create tole booths on the internet highway. Many sites now are just business which require a fee for us travelers to enter. The Republicans want us to pay a fee to even travel at all.

Nov 10, 2011 5:06pm EST  --  Report as abuse
idlespire1 wrote:
remember…Republicans only what small government when they are not the people in control. Otherwise, why would they push the anti-abortion and anti-gay issues when they finally get some power?

Nov 10, 2011 11:48pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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