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The toner has barely dried on the FCC's controversial net neutrality framework, and congressional Republicans are already moving to tear it apart.
As Marsha Blackburn's first official act of the 112th Congress, she has introduced a bill—The Internet Freedom Act—that would strike down the FCC’s new policy framework for net neutrality. And Blackburn isn’t acting alone: she said she has the backing of more than 60 members of Congress, including the majority of the Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its new chairman, Fred Upton.
Blackburn’s bill follows the FCC’s framework for Internet regulation, which would prevent Internet service providers from giving preferential treatment to online sites or services, but offers a much looser framework for wireless operators, enabling mobile networks to selectively block applications, so long as it’s done with full transparency. The framework would also enable ISPs to create premium, high-performance network services separate from the public Internet, to which neutrality rules would not apply. The policy is intended to enshrine the heart of the FCC’s original Internet freedoms—which a court found the FCC did not have the power to enforce—without requiring Congress grant the FCC new authorities. The policy proposal has met mixed reactions: Internet operators are concerned the regulations would provide a disincentive to invest in broadband infrastructure and services, while neutrality advocates warn that ISPs could use wiggle room in the policies to discriminate against competitors or services—especially in the mobile arena—and that the framework might head to the creation of a two-tier Internet, with the high-performance tier essentially unregulated.
Great! Any one else feel like every battle won last year is being refought this year?