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Outside editorial: Empower the FCC to protect Internet access

Posted: April 10, 2011 - 9:29pm

The following editorial first appeared in the Seattle Times:

Even the Federal Communications Commission’s timid assertion of rights and protections for consumers on the Internet continues to inspire the wrath of Republicans.

The U.S. House of Representatives cleared the way for a resolution disapproving of the FCC’s net-neutrality guidelines adopted in December. Debate and a vote on the resolution, a formal device used by Congress to block actions taken by federal agencies, is pending.

The target: net-neutrality rules that require owners of the Internet’s infrastructure to treat all content equally. Even with expected House approval, the resolution should not clear the Democratic Senate, and it is still subject to a presidential veto.

The White House on Monday threatened just such an action, as it raised concerns about a threat to innovation on the Internet and consumer abuses without net-neutrality rules.

Oregon congressman Greg Walden proposed the rule-blocking resolution. News accounts quoted the Republican chair of the Communications Subcommittee as saying the FCC’s Open Internet Order would prohibit religious organizations from creating specialized services.

Earlier this month, a lawyer for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, said they hear from consumers, small businesses, religious organizations and civil-rights groups that open Internet rules are critical to protecting equal access.

The House is primed to go after FCC rules that should be stronger, not weaker. Broadband providers must not be able to invent tiered rates and tinker with speed and delivery to the detriment of broadband customers.

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