Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) filed legislation Wednesday to strike down Internet line regulations passed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) during the lame duck session in December 2010.
Blackburn’s office said she is also joined by more than 60 members, including the majority of Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. With most recent cosigner, Blue-Dog Democrat Rep. Dan Boren (Okla) stepping into the fight to strike the attempt at a governmental communicative take over.
The bill states, generally, that regulations impacting the Internet must be left to Congress and not the FCC.
The FCC’s rules required cable and DSL providers not to block websites and services consumers want to use, while leaving wireless companies with a little more latitude.
However,the FCC is still curious as to how to power grab the wireless telecoms— as apparent in the FCC’s new rules to require wireless telecoms to be transparent about what blocking or “traffic management” they engage in.
So it’s little surprise that the FCC announced Wednesday a competition for apps that will check if mobile carriers are blocking online video sites, slowing down VOIP services that compete with them or are monkeying around with the sites a user is trying to visit.
Yet, the FCC spins it in another manner: They state its “Open Internet Challenge” is intended to spur developers to make “innovative and functional applications that provide users with information about the extent to which their fixed or mobile broadband Internet services are consistent with the open Internet.”
The measure pleased few, and provoked outrage on all sides of the political fence from those who protest that, including FCC commissioner Robert McDowell state, “It’s an interventionist over-reach by an activist federal regulator intent on asserting control over the internet.”
Sascha Meinrath, director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative agreed, “Despite promising to fulfill President Obama’s campaign promise of enacting network neutrality rules to protect an open Internet, the FCC has instead prioritized the profits of corporations like AT&T over those of the general public, internet entrepreneurs and local businesses across the country.”
The new rules of the communication highway will resemble the old rules in many respects minus the legal authority and adding a massive new loophole.
For the first time, federal policy would allow for “paid prioritization,” which critics argue is the first step toward cleaving out high-speed, premium fast lanes from the “public internet.” This could jeopardize internet innovation by disincentivising entrepreneurial activity on the free, or regular, internet.
Both wireless and fixed broadband service providers will have to explain how they manage congestion on their networks. Additionally, Cable and DSL providers would be barred from “unreasonably” discriminating against various online services.
It is unclear as to the FCC definition of “unreasonableness.” However, if the FCC determines such “unreasonable” discrimination is occurring, the FCC says it has the power to enjoin — or stop — the behavior, as well as issue fines or even seize assets which is a direct violation of our 1st amendment right: Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press.
With the FCC regulation being pushed suddenly through the 2010 lame duck legislative body- it is going to take a fight to get the rules reversed. This is a time that all parties: Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Tea Party, Libertarians, No Party Affiliation alike need to stand together to ensure that our Constitutional Right as guaranteed to us in the 1st amendment is not taken away by control of mass media.
If you would like to be an activist on this issue, please contact me at Anahataetal@hotmail.com.
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