House to Reform FCC Over Net Neutrality?

posted at 5:00 pm on April 16, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

A few days back the House took what is being called by some a “symbolic vote” aimed essentially at blocking the FCC’s ability to implement so-called Net Neutrality rules.

A few days ago, Republicans, in a symbolic Congressional vote, nullified the order of net neutrality issued by the FCC. A resolution for disapproval has been voted 241-178 and the House claimed that rules banning application blocking and some cases of unfair network management should be deprived of force or “effect”. Rob Woodall, Georgia Congressman, said that although the FCC needed permission to issue rules for the Internet, the House needed to reject any rules coming form the FCC.

The resolution was opposed by Democrats who argued that such a decision would threaten both innovative technologies in the United States and real jobs.

While the vote brought cheers from opponents of the Net Neutrality movement, it’s important to remember that this is far from a done deal. Thus the “symbolic” comment.

The measure still needs Senate approval, but the Republican gesture supporting large corporations is mostly symbolic and has no chance since the Obama administration had declared it would veto this resolution if it passed.

This situation once again brings up a long needed debate on two levels. From the fine detail perspective, we still haven’t resolved the question of whether or not the internet is truly the province of the FCC to begin with, and if such a body should be able to regulate internet activity, which affects commerce and a whole host of other concerns. And from a much wider view, a battle is waiting to be fought over exactly how far any executive branch office may properly go in the creation of “rules” which have the force of law completely outside of the legislative process.

The second portion may soon be getting more attention, since Greg Walden announced this week that he’s planning on hearings aimed at putting some of the FCC’s powers in check and effectively reviewing their charter.

House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden said Wednesday to look for a hearing and legislation on Federal Communications Commission reform.

The Oregon Republican and former broadcaster, speaking at the American Cable Association Summit in Washington, D.C., did not talk about specific reforms, but he is very publicly on the record in opposition to the FCC’s highest-profile rulemaking decision, the network neutrality rules passed last December.

Walden introduced a resolution, which passed the House, invalidating those rules, which he says the FCC did not have the authority to implement. Democrats have criticized the effort as a waste of time since the Senate is highly unlikely to follow suit and the President highly likely to veto it if they did.

But Walden said the FCC was a “creature of Congress,” and suggested it was Congress’ duty to keep that creature in check if it starts to run loose. “Failure to do that only gives them license to do other things they don’t have the authority to do,” he said.

This should be one to watch for, as it addresses the fundamental question I raised above. Is the FCC truly a “creature of Congress” as Walden suggests or should they operate solely at the behest of the executive branch, effectively implementing the president’s vision over such matters? In some areas, such as food safety regulations, it is clearly sensible to have a group of experts taking care of the fine points rather than tying up Congress over matters most of them are not equipped to address. But the FCC currently extends its rule making power in ways which dip into rice bowls all across the spectrum. Perhaps these hearings will result in clarifying that role.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.


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“Failure to do that only gives them license to do other things they don’t have the authority to do,” he said.

Kind of like Obowma…

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on April 16, 2011 at 5:10 PM

This comment has been removed by the FCC

The Mega Independent on April 16, 2011 at 5:26 PM

Huge issue. Write your congressmen, and write Walden to support this fight against a chilling and outraegous power-grab by the FCC.

rrpjr on April 16, 2011 at 5:44 PM

This comment has been removed by the FCC

The Mega Independent on April 16, 2011 at 5:26 PM

We have a threadwinner…already!!

Tim Zank on April 16, 2011 at 5:54 PM

EPA, FCC, government was never suppose to have this reach.

Kini on April 16, 2011 at 6:17 PM

Mean while, back at ChiMoTown East:

Under a White House plan, the Homeland Security Department will have far-reaching oversight over all civilian agency computer networks.

The proposal would codify much of the administration’s memo from July 2010 expanding DHS’s cyber responsibilities for civilian networks.

The White House, however, is taking those responsibilities further, according to a source familiar with the document. The administration drafted a legislative proposal to give DHS many, if not all, of the same authorities for the .gov networks that the Defense Department has for the .mil networks.

Federal News Radio recently viewed a draft copy of the legislative proposal.

“I have to question why the Executive branch is writing legislation,” said the source, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about it. “This is not a proposal or white paper like the White House usually sends to Capitol Hill. This is the actual legislation.”

The source said the 100-page document is going through interagency review. DHS sent the document around to agencies late last Friday and asked for comments by Monday. The source said few agencies had time to take a hard look at the document, especially in light of the possible government shutdown.

Sources on Capitol Hill and in government confirmed the White House is working on such a proposal.

A DHS spokesman said the agency doesn’t comment on pending legislation.” [...]

From an article at FederalNewsRadio.com

The OTHER interesting part of the proposed bill is near the end of the article. Witness the “GOOGLE PROVISION”.

OkieDoc on April 16, 2011 at 6:23 PM

The OTHER interesting part of the proposed bill ACTUAL LEGISLATION is near the end of the article. Witness the “GOOGLE PROVISION”.

Sorry, didn’t want you to miss that like I did, heh.

OkieDoc on April 16, 2011 at 6:26 PM

Obama will attempt to shut down all or certain portions of internet sometime in the 2-6 months before the election.

The internet is critical to the tea party and to all conservative political networks. Obama knows this. Obama’s own political communication infrastructure (nested within the official government sphere) will remain intact and exempt.

A prediction, but one based on a lifetime around the Left.

rrpjr on April 16, 2011 at 6:45 PM

And from a much wider view, a battle is waiting to be fought over exactly how far any executive branch office may properly go in the creation of “rules” which have the force of law completely outside of the legislative process.

This needs to happen. This isn’t supposed to be a “Rex Lex” country.

INC on April 16, 2011 at 6:59 PM

rrpjr on April 16, 2011 at 6:45 PM

I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried it, but I would expect some strong push back. It would also cost him some indie votes–his margin wasn’t huge in some of the states he won in 2008.

INC on April 16, 2011 at 7:01 PM

It’s actually fun to see the WIRED crowd agape at the outrages of little Bammie’s tyrannical administration as far as online freedoms and civil liberties go. Online Poker was more or less killed off this weekend as well. Hey geeks, who’s the fascist now?

slickwillie2001 on April 16, 2011 at 7:47 PM

Obama will attempt to shut down all or certain portions of internet sometime in the 2-6 months before the election.

The internet is critical to the tea party and to all conservative political networks. Obama knows this. Obama’s own political communication infrastructure (nested within the official government sphere) will remain intact and exempt.

A prediction, but one based on a lifetime around the Left.

rrpjr on April 16, 2011 at 6:45 PM

You’re joking, right?

Ortzinator on April 16, 2011 at 8:24 PM

You’re joking, right?

Well, imagine if in January 2011, someone had predicted:

“Within 6 months of his shellacking at the polls this past November, President Obama will militarily intervene in a third muslim country, without asking for Congressional authorization, and the media, Hollywood, and the anti-war movement will all remain essentially silent.”

You couldn’t have sold that as a script for an alternate-reality science fiction story!

drunyan8315 on April 16, 2011 at 8:46 PM

You’re joking, right?

Ortzinator on April 16, 2011 at 8:24 PM

No. I should have added, if it wasn’t implied, that he would have a “legitimate” pretext for these actions e.g., a cyber-security threat.

rrpjr on April 16, 2011 at 9:37 PM

In some areas, such as food safety regulations, it is clearly sensible to have a group of experts taking care of the fine points rather than tying up Congress over matters most of them are not equipped to address

“An expert is someone 50 miles from home with a briefcase that can convince a jury of their peers that they are smarter.”

I’m not convinced the experts are any better equipped than Congress.

chemman on April 16, 2011 at 9:59 PM

This is a tough one.

Ultimately I think it’s the business of the carrier to determine bandwidth usage, rates, and to contract with companies or individuals for better service if they’re willing to pay for it. For a basic service, you’d just have to deal with slower connection speeds from time to time and possible timeouts.

As internet traffic increases, this will become an even bigger issue.

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 16, 2011 at 10:54 PM

I’m not convinced the experts are any better equipped than Congress.

chemman on April 16, 2011 at 9:59 PM

We’ve traded the tyranny of kings for the tyranny of experts.

I’d rather err on the side of abolishing the FCC.

JellyToast on April 16, 2011 at 11:37 PM

This is another bonehead ploy at managing the internet. If carriers have to treat bandwidth-hogging sites like those which aren’t, costs will go up for the consumer and technical advances will be delayed, as will infrastructure investment.

Congress did the same thing with broadband by requiring the system owners to rent their hardware network based solely on operational cost, and bear the capital investment themselves. It set back construction for years – why would you invest millions in a system your competitors could then rent from you?

It was like requiring Target to allow TJ Maxx to rent space in all their new stores, paying only their pro-rated share of utilities.

How long has it been since Democrats and/or the left has had ANY idea that wasn’t stupid and destructive?

Adjoran on April 17, 2011 at 1:25 AM

Banning poker players from online gambling is only a test.

It isnt about no tax revenue being brought into the government, it’s all about control. They could figure out a way to tax it if that were their goal.

See how many scream about the DOJ closing down gambling sites, then go on to the next step.

I think we’d all better start screaming as loud as we can when they close any part of the internet to users, for we will be next.

mollymack on April 17, 2011 at 7:14 AM

FCC has no jurisdiction over the internet. None, nada, zero, zip. FCC needs to be reigned in. Revamp its charter to spell out the limitations of its authority.

This is serious stuff. Our liberty is at risk. Thank you, Greg Walden.

petefrt on April 17, 2011 at 8:14 AM

mollymack on April 17, 2011 at 7:14 AM

I think as you do. This administration intends to tighten its grip on media, especially media that expresses critical or conservative views. The Left has no tolerance for free speech, unless it supports them.

petefrt on April 17, 2011 at 8:20 AM

Here’s a great reform for the FCC: don’t fund it.

It’ll reform out of the way in no time flat next FY.

ajacksonian on April 17, 2011 at 9:27 AM

Only the House has the authority to appropriate money. When are the GOP going to figure that out and use the most powerful weapon they have……oh never mind, were talking about the moron party.

flytier on April 17, 2011 at 2:09 PM

This comment has been removed by the FCC

The Mega Independent on April 16, 2011 at 5:26 PM

Given that the lack of Net Neutrality would permit your ISP to suppress any communications they care to suppress based on technology utilized, and given that Net Neutrality would allow you to communicate using any technology you care to utilize over the Internet, I’d say Mega Independent’s comment is back-asswards.

unclesmrgol on April 17, 2011 at 11:17 PM

FCC has no jurisdiction over the internet. None, nada, zero, zip. FCC needs to be reigned in. Revamp its charter to spell out the limitations of its authority.

This is serious stuff. Our liberty is at risk. Thank you, Greg Walden.

petefrt on April 17, 2011 at 8:14 AM

I disagree as to jurisdiction, but agree whole heartedly with respect to liberty. The Internet is a large communications network transferred by the Federal Government to monopoly private ownership. If the ISPs comprising the Internet had built the infrastructure themselves — had developed the protocols and the methods of routing themselves — I’d say the Government ought to butt out. But given that I cannot choose my ISP (other than to choose someone who bundles AT&T services), I get rather upset when I hear that an ISP may be allowed to shutdown certain internet services because they compete with that provider’s own services. Comcast already has done this with respect to NetFlix and Verizon’s attempt to challenge the rules has already been quashed by the DC district court (where Verizon filed its challenge). Net Neutrality says that a provider cannot slow or block Internet transmissions based on content. They are allowed to rate limit a customer’s general use of the network per contract, but they are not allowed to provide preferential services to some packets from a user over others. That means that AT&T cannot suppress or slow Skype packets, and Comcast cannot suppress or slow NetFlix packets, over the normal speeds provided to a customer.

The ISPs want to do this to services which compete with their own offering — and given that you, for example, are paying your ISP good money to transport your Skype packets, do you really want them to slow them down because they want to sell you a competing VOIP service? I don’t.

This is another case where libertarians are duking it out with each other, and what will result is yet another law to separate the two.

unclesmrgol on April 17, 2011 at 11:31 PM

Poker web sites, P2P sites and many tv streaming sites on the web have already been shut down by Eric Holder and ICE?

What does ICE have to do with tv streaming?

These people MUST be stopped.

dthorny on April 18, 2011 at 4:39 AM

unclesmrgol on April 17, 2011 at 11:31 PM

The FCC does not have jurisdiction. If you “disagree”, show how they do.

I suggest you read up on the history and list of Marxist groups behind net neutrality and government control of the internet. Or read up on what is happening in Russia and how Obama is abetting it. Or read Steve Wozniak’s article in Atlantic about how Apple never would have been formed under FCC “jurisdiction” of the internet, and how the energy and resources that went into innovation will now go toward a “Mother, may I?” approach to Washington and lawyers and lobbyists to play and rig the game. It’s the end of the internet.

http://blog.heartland.org/2010/12/heartland-institute-on-the-fccs-net-neutrality-power-grab/

John Fund of the WSJ:

The net neutrality vision for government regulation of the Internet began with the work of Robert McChesney, a University of Illinois communications professor who founded the liberal lobby Free Press in 2002. Mr. McChesney’s agenda? “At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies,” he told the website SocialistProject in 2009. “But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control. …
For a man with such radical views, Mr. McChesney and his Free Press group have had astonishing influence. Genachowski’s press secretary at the FCC, Jen Howard, used to handle media relations at Free Press. The FCC’s chief diversity officer, Mark Lloyd, co-authored a Free Press report calling for regulation of political talk radio.

rrpjr on April 18, 2011 at 11:11 AM