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House panel votes for Net neutrality

Anonymous Coward
User ID: 70582
United States
05/25/2006 03:35 PM
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House panel votes for Net neutrality
[link to news.com.com]

WASHINGTON--A bill that seeks to prevent broadband providers from offering an exclusive high-speed lane for video and other services has taken a step closer to becoming law.

By a 20-13 vote Thursday that partially followed party lines, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would require broadband providers to abide by strict Net neutrality principles, meaning that their networks must be operated in a "nondiscriminatory" manner.

All 14 Democrats on the committee--joined by 6 Republicans--supported the measure, while 13 Republicans opposed it.

That vote is a surprise victory for Internet companies such as Amazon.com, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo that had lobbied fiercely in the last few months for stricter laws to ensure that Verizon, AT&T and other broadband providers could not create a "fast lane" reserved for video or other high-priority content of their choice.

"The lack of competition in the broadband marketplace presents a clear incentive for providers to leverage dominant market power over the broadband bottleneck, to preselect, favor or prioritize Internet content," said Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican who heads the committee.

In an unusual twist, many members of the committee said they were voting for the legislation not because of strong concerns over Net neutrality--but instead because of a turf battle. They said they were worried that a competing proposal already approved by a different committee last month would diminish their own influence in the future.

That other bill, called the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement, or COPE, Act, says the Federal Communications Commission "shall have exclusive authority" to investigate violations of Net neutrality principles. It's backed by Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican who heads the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and does not include strict Net neutrality mandates.

That resulted in an unusual situation in which politicians who weren't enthusiastic about the Judiciary bill nevertheless voted for it on Wednesday. "I think the bill is a blunt instrument, and yet I think it does send a message that it's important to attain jurisdiction for the Justice Department and for antitrust issues," said Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat.

The most pointed opposition to the Judiciary bill came from Texas Republican Lamar Smith, who said he would prefer "to leave these decisions to the courts to work out on a case-by-case basis under the antitrust law."
askakido nli
User ID: 65577
United States
05/25/2006 04:13 PM
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Re: House panel votes for Net neutrality
Got a bill number on that?