Washington House Republicans adamant that the government keep its hands off the Internet passed a bill Friday to repeal federal rules barring Internet service providers from blocking or setting different prices for some uses of their networks.
Republicans, in voting to repeal rules on “network neutrality” set down by the Federal Communications Commission, said the FCC lacked the authority to promulgate the rules. They disputed the need to interfere with an already open Internet and warned that the rules would stifle investment in broadband systems.
“The FCC power grab would allow it to regulate any interstate communication service on barely more than a whim and without any additional input from Congress,” said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., sponsor of the legislation. The Internet, he added, “is open and innovative thanks to the government’s hands-off approach.”
But in what has become a largely partisan battle, the Democrat-controlled Senate is not expected to go along with the House. Even if it cleared Congress, the White House has threatened to veto a bill it said puts in doubt whether “the democratic spirit of the Internet will remain intact.”
Rep. Henry Waxman of California, top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said nullifying the FCC rules would “give big phone and cable companies control over what websites Americans can visit, what applications they can run and what devices they can use.”
The vote to pass the bill, mainly along party lines, was 240-179.