Tech

Congressional Republicans Move To Override FCC Net Neutrality Rules

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor

Republicans in the House of Representatives this week made a legislative move to override the Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality rules.

Fourteen Republicans, led by Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, filed a resolution disapproving of new FCC regulations banning Internet service providers (ISPs) from segregating Web traffic based on speed and price, which they argue threatens industry innovation and expansion. (RELATED: FCC Votes In Favor Of Net Neutrality)

“Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to the matter of protecting and promoting the open Internet,” the eight-line resolution reads. “[A]nd such rule shall have no force or effect.”

Under the Congressional Review Act, the resolution can be brought directly to the floor for votes on both sides of Congress and bypass the threat of a filibuster by Democrats in the Senate.

“The agency is stretching old definitions to fit its regulatory agenda,” Collins, who serves as vice-chair of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, said in a statement Monday describing the new FCC regulations scheduled to take effect in June.

Under the regulations, ISPs are essentially reclassified as public utilities and subject to authority granted in Title II of the 1996 Telecommunications Act — authority based on that used to regulate the Bell telephone monopoly and open up telecommunications competition in 1934.

“Only businesses with the greatest resources will survive Washington, D.C.’s latest bureaucratic expansion into a growing and dynamic industry, particularly mobile broadband.”

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, along with Democrats in both chambers, believe those rules are necessary in order to safeguard Internet content creators and users from paying higher prices for acceptable service speeds and unsegregated traffic.

Pro-net neutrality advocates argue the need for such rules was made apparent in deals brokered between Netflix, AT&T and Verizon last year, in which the video streaming website agreed to pay more after alleging both companies were intentionally throttling its transmission speeds to users.

“My House colleagues and I want a free and open Internet, one that increases access and participation, but legislating solutions needs to happen in public, in the halls of Congress,” Collins said.

Other resolution co-sponsors include Reps. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, Steve Chabot and Bob Latta of Ohio, Lynn Westmoreland, Rick Allen, Barry Loudermilk and Buddy Carter of Georgia, Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, Bill Posey, Vern Buchanan and Dennis Ross of Florida, Ryan Zinke of Montana and Sam Johnson and Ted Poe of Texas.

Though a Republican majority in both houses could pass the measure, the bill would likely be dead on arrival to the President Obama’s desk. Prior to Wheeler’s announcement of the new rules in February, Obama called on the agency to implement Title II authority over broadband and wireless providers last November.

Republicans in the Senate led by Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune are working on their own legislative solution to peel back Title II reclassification, while setting up the many of the protections called for by net neutrality advocates, including bans on content blocking, throttling and higher-priced service speeds. The bill has yet to draw any Democratic co-sponsors. (RELATED: Republicans Are Not Giving Up The Net Neutrality Fight)

The agency’s new rules were officially published in the Federal Register on Monday, setting off a countdown to their official implementation on June 12. on the same day, USTelecom filed the first of many legal challenges expected from industry trade groups and service providers, which seeks a repeal of the rules based on the assertion that the FCC’s reclassification violates federal law.

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