House Speaker Denounces Supposed 'Government Takeover' Of Web

Lest there be any doubt, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made clear on Sunday that the GOP really doesn't like the Federal Communications Commission's new neutrality rules.

Characterizing the FCC's order as a "government takeover of the Internet," he vowed that Republicans in Congress would move forward with their attempt to vacate the new rules. What's more, he specifically rejected the idea of a neutrality "compromise" -- including the measure proposed last year by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) that would have required wireline broadband providers to follow neutrality principles for the next two years. That bill also would have prohibited the FCC from reclassifying broadband as a Title II telecommunications service for two years.

"As far as I'm concerned," Boehner said in a speech to the National Association of Religious Broadcasters, "there is no compromise or middle ground when it comes to protecting our most basic freedoms."

As if that wasn't enough, Boehner also offered a misleading definition of neutrality, calling it "a series of regulations that empower the federal bureaucracy to regulate Internet content and viewpoint discrimination."

The FCC's neutrality rules, however, don't regulate content -- at least not by any reasonable definition of the word. The rules prohibit providers from degrading or blocking sites. The goal isn't to mandate any particular type of content, but to make sure that broadband users can reach Google, Craigslist or any other lawful site they wish to visit.

Ironically, for all of the GOP's opposition to the FCC's neutrality rules, many proponents have criticized the regulations as too weak. Of course, the legislative push against neutrality ultimately might be meaningless because two companies -- Verizon and MetroPCS -- have challenged the new regulations in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Some observers say that appellate court is likely to rule in favor of the telecoms. That's because three judges on that court already decided in a separate case involving Comcast that the FCC lacks authority to enforce neutrality rules because it classifies broadband as an information service. In that matter, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated an FCC ruling imposing sanctions on Comcast for throttling peer-to-peer traffic.

2 comments about "House Speaker Denounces Supposed 'Government Takeover' Of Web ".
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  1. Chuck Lantz from, network, March 1, 2011 at 3 a.m.

    I applaud Speaker Boehner and his GOP colleagues for their yeoman (and yeowoman) efforts to help us understand the ultra-conservative political thought-process:

    ... All we need do is take every stand they take, and every definition they utter, and turn them completely around. And therein lies the truth.

  2. Robert Repas from Machine Design Magazine, March 1, 2011 at 1:29 p.m.

    I am truly embarrassed to say techno-illiterate Boehner is from my home state. Anyone who can so misunderstand the nature and purpose of these regulations makes me question his (or her) competency to remain in a position of authority.

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