Commentary

Republicans Again Try To Block FCC Neutrality Rules

In an attempt to derail the Federal Communications Commission from proceeding with open Internet rules proposed by Chairman Julius Genachowski, some Republicans have reintroduced an amendment banning the FCC from using government funding to adopt or implement net neutrality regulations.

The irony is, these GOP lawmakers might not be doing the Internet service providers a favor, considering that neutrality proponents say that enacting Genachowski's latest plan would be worse than allowing the status quo to continue.

Earlier this month, Genachowski proposed that the FCC adopt rules similar to a bill floated by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). That plan would prohibit wireline ISPSs from blocking traffic or engaging in unreasonable discrimination. But Genachowski didn't propose applying the same mandates to mobile broadband. Instead, wireless broadband providers have to provide transparency to consumers and wouldn't be allowed to block traffic.

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Neutrality advocates have sharply criticized that plan, arguing that wireless and wireline providers should have to follow the same rules. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) went so far as to argue that Genachowski's plan could hurt openness by legitimizing the practices it doesn't specifically ban.

Unfortunately, it's hard to know for certain whether that's the case because, as of Friday afternoon, the FCC has yet to release the exact wording of the order up for a vote next week.

That information gap in itself has irked some lawmakers. Yesterday, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich,) and two other anti-neutrality GOP House members urged the FCC to unveil more details of the order it will vote on. "Despite the reams of paper filed and cores of meetings held -- or perhaps because of them -- the public has not had a realistic and fulsome chance to analyze and comment on the proposal as it now stands," they wrote. "A theoretical opportunity to participate in this proceeding is not the same thing as transparency."

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