Thursday, May 28, 2015

Democrats block GOP bid to overturn net neutrality

The GOP push to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's modest network-neutrality rules fell short in the U.S. Senate today.

Democrats block GOP bid to overturn net neutrality

The GOP push to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's modest 2010 network-neutrality rules fell short in the U.S. Senate today.  After passing the House this spring, the resolution failed on 52-46 part-line vote - despite the misleading campaign to reverse the rules that I wrote about yesterday.

Parul P. Desai, of Consumers Union, called the vote “a big victory to help keep the Internet open so consumers can freely surf the web. If these rules had been struck down, it would have been a serious blow to the free flow of commerce and ideas online."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D., W.Va), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, offered  similar praise: 

I am pleased that the Senate voted down this misguided resolution. By keeping the Open Internet rules in place, we can protect consumers, inspire innovation, and foster investment in the broadband economy. These rules are the product of hard work, consensus, and compromise. During this process, the agency received written input from more than 100,000 commenters, 90 percent of which supported adoption of the Open Internet rules. So at the end of the day, the FCC's light-touch approach to network neutrality prevailed, and that is a good thing.

For evidence he's not just making that up - which you might think if you read misleading  Republican arguments such as these - look at the list of member companies of TechNet.org you can find here. In a statement today, TechNet president Rey Ramsey said,  “Efforts to reverse net neutrality regulations set back a process that delivered balanced regulations and serve investors, innovators and consumers.”

Let's hope the FCC's "light touch" approach is really adequate to the task. If there's one thing this episode demonstrated, it's that the FCC's willingness to compromise, led by its 3-2 Democratic majority, won it exactly zero support from the ideologues guiding today's Republican Party.

It may be good politics to try to block or defeat anything the Democrats do, even when they promote policies - as they did with net neutrality and health care - that are essentially one party's attempt at a bipartisan compromise.  But it's a lousy way to make policy decisions on critical issues.  In this case, they're favoring the narrow interests of a handful of companies that dominate U.S. broadband networks over the interests of the multitude of businesses - along with consumers and citizens - who rely on them.

Inquirer Business Columnist
About this blog

Jeff Gelles, who writes the Inquirer's weekly Consumer 14.0 and Tech Life columns, takes a broad look at the marketplace of goods, services, and ideas.

Reach Jeff at jgelles@phillynews.com.

Jeff Gelles Inquirer Business Columnist