WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives voted on Friday to reject Internet “neutrality” rules that were adopted last year to keep big Internet service providers from blocking certain traffic
House Republicans, in a 240-179 vote, pushed through a measure disapproving the Federal Communications Commission’s rules. Tech and telecom giants such as Verizon Communications Inc and Microsoft Corp could be affected.
The outlook for further progress by the Republicans in rolling back the FCC’s actions was uncertain, however.
While a similar measure has been offered in the Senate and has 39 co-sponsors, the White House said on Monday that President Barack Obama’s advisers would recommend that he veto any such resolution.
The FCC’s rules, approved in late December, banned Internet service providers from blocking traffic on their networks, while allowing providers — such as Verizon, Comcast Corp and AT&T Inc — to “reasonably” manage their networks and charge consumers based on usage.
Republicans argued in House debate that the FCC’s rules needlessly impose government regulation on the Internet.
“The FCC has never had the authority to regulate the Internet,” said Republican Representative Cliff Stearns.
House Republican Leader Eric Cantor called the House’s vote “an important step to bring down the FCC’s harmful and partisan plan to regulate the Internet.”
Democrats argue that the FCC rules are needed to curb the growing market power of large service providers.
Disapproving the FCC rules “would give big phone and cable companies control over what websites Americans can visit, what applications they can run, and what devices they can use,” said Democratic Representative Henry Waxman.
Democratic Representative Anna Eshoo called the Republican push against the FCC’s rules “an ideological assault on a federal agency and its ability to provide basic consumer protections.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Monday dismissed challenges to the FCC rules that had been filed by Verizon and MetroPCS Communications Inc, ruling that the challenges were premature.
“In most parts of the country, companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast have a virtual monopoly over access to the Internet,” Waxman said. “Without regulation, they can choke off innovation by charging for the right to communicate with their customers.”
Editing by Gary Hill