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Senate votes down anti-net neutrality resolution

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 11 Nov 2011 10:34

Senate votes down anti-net neutrality resolution President Obama will not have to follow through with his threat to veto a resolution forbidding the FCC from implementing net neutrality rules. On Wednesday the senate resolution was rejected by a narrow margin.
The vote was 52 to 46 with 2 other senators not voting.

The FCC's rules were created in response to Comcast's 2008 victory over the agency in federal court. The FCC punished Comcast for throttling various types of traffic, including P2P traffic from BitTorrent.

The court found the FCC's lack of rules on the subject meant they couldn't punish the largest cable company in the US for their throttling practices.

Opposition to the new FCC rules aren't limited to the Senate, or even to opponents of net neutrality in general. Media reform activists at Free Press are suing the FCC claiming exemptions in the rules for mobile Internet providers are illegal.

In reality, this senate vote was only a symbolic gesture. A promise for rules of this type was made by the president during his election campaign, and nothing has changed to suggest it would be any political advantage in going back on his word.

It certainly doesn't mean the net neutrality debate is over. Even if the legal challenges to the new rules, including a lawsuit from Verizon, fail in court, a future FCC chairman could reverse them just as easily as the current chairman has put them in place.

The FCC's policy on issues like net neutrality is primarily set by the president, making it extremely variable. The Supreme Court has previously backed their authority to set policies like this in pretty much whatever way they see fit.

While enactment of the rules may make it more difficult politically, it wouldn't be the first time the president or FCC ignored public opinion in setting rules, nor the last.

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