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House Republicans Nix ‘Net Neutrality’ Funding

18 Feb, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

House Republicans determined to cut $61 billion in discretionary spending from the federal budget Feb. 17 voted against government funding of the new “net neutrality” ruling the Federal Communications Commission approved late last year.

The House, which became Republican-controlled following the midterm elections in 2010, voted 244-181 in favor of the measure. It still must pass the Democrat-controlled Senate and be signed by President Barack Obama to become law.

Senate Republicans also introduced a similar measure aimed at reducing FCC control over the commercial Internet.

The net neutrality measure prohibits cable, satellite and telecommunications operators from restricting broadband access to third-party online content providers such as Netflix. Failure to adhere to the rules would result in FCC fines and sanctions.

While many tech groups have supported net neutrality and accuse Republicans of forwarding their big business agenda, civil rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation argues the FCC lacks the mandate to impose the regulation. Characterizing net neutrality as a possible FCC “Trojan horse,” EFF legal analyst Abigail Phillips said the basic premise wasn’t bad, but when factoring in ancillary jurisdiction, it sours quickly.

“It would give the FCC pretty much boundless authority to regulate the Internet for whatever it sees fit. And that kind of unrestrained authority makes us nervous,” Phillips wrote.

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