FCC has votes to approve “open Internet” proposal

posted at 10:15 am on December 21, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has the three votes needed to approve his “open Internet” proposal that will expand FCC authority to the private networks that form its backbone.  Despite calls from both conservatives opposed to FCC jurisdiction in this area and Net Neutrality advocates angry that Genachowski watered down their own proposals, the other two Democratic appointees will vote in support of the proposal, CBS reports:

New rules aimed at prohibiting broadband providers from becoming gatekeepers of Internet traffic now have just enough votes to pass the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday.

The rules would prohibit phone and cable companies from abusing their control over broadband connections to discriminate against rival content or services, such as Internet phone calls or online video, or play favorites with Web traffic.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski now has the three votes needed for approval, despite firm opposition from the two Republicans on the five-member commission. Genachowski’s two fellow Democrats said Monday they will vote for the rules, even though they consider them too weak.

Mitch McConnell warns Genachowski and the Obama administration that that fight isn’t over in a video released last night:

I’m Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader in the U.S. Senate.

The Internet is a platform for innovation. Every day entrepreneurs, including many in Kentucky, offer new services to millions of Americans, like yourself, who use the internet on a daily basis – and are using it right now to watch this video. Our economy has benefited from the rapid growth of the Internet, and that’s due in large part to the lack of government involvement.

But that could soon change. The Obama Administration, which has already nationalized health care, the auto industry, insurance companies, banks and student loans, now wants to brazenly control how Americans use the Internet by establishing federal regulations on its usage. This would harm investment, stifle innovation and lead to job losses.

I, along with several of my colleagues, have urged the FCC Chairman to abandon this flawed approach. But we need your help. Please share this video with your friends on the Internet.

The Internet is a valuable resource and it must be left alone.

The new rules will come under scrutiny almost immediately in the upcoming Congress. Even the Democratic-run Congress objected to Genachowski’s first attempt at claiming jurisdiction over the Internet, as did the courts. A Republican-run House will look even more skeptically at expanded claims of jurisdiction by an agency, especially when Congress has previously refused to grant that jurisdiction.

The principle is still the same. Genachowski’s approach equates the Internet to telephone service and the 1934 Communications Act that birthed the FCC and granted it jurisdiction. However, that was a state-approved private monopoly that required regulation in the absence of competition, which the government outlawed prior to breaking up AT&T. The Internet has plenty of competition, especially for end users, who can either get service over the hard wire of their local telephone service, a cable-TV network, or wireless access. In that competitive environment, the FCC has no business dictating the management of private networks.

The proposal may pass today, but the battle will start on January 5th.

Update: The next move may come in court, according to National Journal’s Tech Daily Dose:

Multiple sources have told National Journal that Verizon, the nation’s second largest telecommunications carrier, may seek to overturn the historic open Internet rules to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday morning. Sources said the option is on the table, but cautioned that no final decision has been made. The company will review the details of the new “network neutrality” rules set for adoption by the agency’s three Democratic regulators to gauge its next move.

That would allow another court to reiterate what the FCC was told in April, which is that they have exceeded their mandate by imposing themselves on private networks in a competitive market without Congressional approval to do so.

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t is also a fact that local cable monopolies are the result of local government regulation which no longer has any technical applicability or justification, yet another thing that Ernesto is willfully pig-ignorant about.

ebrown2 on December 21, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Yeah, I pointed that out in my third(?) post when I said “provided your local government regulations don’t prevent [new ISP] start-up from happening.”

I’m pretty sure that Ernesto doesn’t understand local politics though. It seems that most people tend to ignore what their local town gov’t is doing because it doesn’t often make big news. Small town mayors in my experience can be easily bought…even by small companies.

It’s easily fixed if people care enough to pay attention when they vote.

Pattosensei on December 21, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Three people can dictate what how the internet is run?

What country am I living in?

Knucklehead on December 21, 2010 at 11:56 AM

Pattosensei on December 21, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Yes, the government regulated telephone, and monopolized that market. There was only one telephone company, and for most of the US that was Bell Telephone. Rural markets that Bell was not interested in, had their own service, and ‘long distance’ calls that connected to the Bell network were a very big deal.

For another example, think of satellite telephony. Very expensive, high priced, and unable to compete with a terrestrial network. Satellite telephone was a ‘very big thing’ until ‘cell phones’ came along.

First it was the printing press and the pony express, then railroads, then newspapers and telegraph, then radio and telephone, then broadcast television. It continues with cable TV, and now the internet.

If only we can keep the polit bureau central committee from screwing everything up. Look at the evolution in cell phone handset capability, and desktop computers. Keep the Feds out of it. US Postal Service?

Skandia Recluse on December 21, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Skandia Recluse on December 21, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Indeed. I was in Japan for the privatization of their postal service. Had a student who was a mailman. It was pretty rough at first, but now their service seems to be top notch. It was pretty cool. It’s been a couple years now, so I’m wondering if any other basic mail carriers have developed. Black Cat was always a good UPS-style service, I bet they’d do mail even better.

Pattosensei on December 21, 2010 at 12:01 PM

Haven’t seen the new ‘rules’ yet but do they favor Gates and Jobs? Always follow the money even tho in this case I think it’s more about big govt control over what we see and hear.

Kissmygrits on December 21, 2010 at 12:04 PM

For another example, think of satellite telephony. Very expensive, high priced, and unable to compete with a terrestrial network. Satellite telephone was a ‘very big thing’ until ‘cell phones’ came along.

Skandia Recluse on December 21, 2010 at 11:58 AM

I have some prototype Iridium satellite phones at my desk if you are interested.

WashJeff on December 21, 2010 at 12:08 PM

WashJeff on December 21, 2010 at 12:08 PM

I bought stock in Iridium. . .

Skandia Recluse on December 21, 2010 at 12:11 PM

..uh….before they declared bankruptcy….

Skandia Recluse on December 21, 2010 at 12:12 PM

So long as companies like Comcast operate monopolies in American markets, net neutrality rules will be necessary. ernesto on December 21, 2010 at 10:21 AM

What’s Verizon, Che? What’s Dish Network, Che?

Akzed on December 21, 2010 at 12:44 PM

I have yet to see McConnell be anything but a “Good ‘ole Boy” and an ineffective leader. He’s a milquetoast kind of guy.

ultracon on December 21, 2010 at 1:06 PM

The tea party was snookered by him.

KickandSwimMom on December 21, 2010 at 10:26 AM

Not true. We knew what we were getting. He was just the lesser of two evils. Unfortunately, in those cases, you’re still voting for evil.

vapig on December 21, 2010 at 1:14 PM

I have yet to see McConnell be anything but a “Good ‘ole Boy” and an ineffective leader. He’s a milquetoast kind of guy.

ultracon on December 21, 2010 at 1:06 PM


Well, if Mitch makes a vow, we have nothing to fear…except FinReg, Food Reg, DADT, START, omnibus spending bills, TARP……….etc, etc…..

JeffVader on December 21, 2010 at 1:30 PM

A solution in search of a problem, and implemented in typical totalitarian Dem fashion – crookedly.


mojo on December 21, 2010 at 1:32 PM

I think that the Netflix issue is reflective of a general concern people have about the big providers. When something comes along that might actually drive prices down for the consumer, the big companies work to find a way to snuff it out, so that the trend of ever increasing prices can continue.

The problem with the supposed competition we have is that it is only an illusion of competition, and yes government regulation is a big part of that problem.

Frankly, I wish people would wise up and tell their providers, be it Comcast, Dish Network, Direct TV, Verizon, whoever, that they won’t keep paying spiraling costs for TV that has still 20 minutes of advertising for every hour of programming, and then there are also entire channels that are nothing but ads, plus hours of late night programming with the entire hour being an ad. With all these ads, we shouldn’t have to be paying so much for TV…we do, because we have to if we want a handful of cable channels we actually want to watch.

Now of course thanks to Netflix, and now ESPN3 on my XBOX, and a fortunate ability to receive most of the major networks in HD via an antenna, I have been able to get away from paying for cable TV and still have an excellent selection. The big providers though are seeking ways to end that….including a desire to end broadcast TV.

flyfishingdad on December 21, 2010 at 1:39 PM

Defund the FCC. 50% reduction in budget and cap salaries at $100k.

barnone on December 21, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Never mind if you agree or disagree with the need for so called “net neutrality”. We now have the Executive branch making de facto law. Should we just disband Congress now?

emz35 on December 21, 2010 at 2:29 PM

oh crud..went looking for the new regulations and discovered
internet.gov and broadband.gov where I discovered that FCC is proposing to set the price of attaching cable to utility poles among other things.

Has anyone found the new regulations yet?

Skandia Recluse on December 21, 2010 at 3:21 PM

Defund the FCC. 50% reduction in budget and cap salaries at $100k.

barnone on December 21, 2010 at 2:27 PM

..make them work under the same principles they apply to Amateur radio: self-policing on a volunteer basis.

73 de k6whp

The War Planner on December 21, 2010 at 4:51 PM

Looks like the actual regulations haven’t yet been officially published. They might appear on the electronic pages of the federal register in about a week or two or three, it’s Christmas don’tja know.

Skandia Recluse on December 21, 2010 at 6:38 PM

As the FCC has no power over the internet, I would (1) ignore them and (2) sue them while demanding the Congress put the FCC in its box!

JIMV on December 21, 2010 at 9:27 PM

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