April 26, 2006 1:54 PM PDT

Democrats lose House vote on Net neutrality

A hotly contested Democratic bid to enshrine extensive Net neutrality regulations in the law books failed Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives.

By a 34-22 vote, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee rejected a Democratic-backed Net neutrality amendment that also enjoyed support from Internet and software companies including Microsoft, Amazon.com and Google.

"I'm concerned about e-mails being blocked from advocacy groups, of all sides," said Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who supported the amendment. "I'm concerned about start-ups that may be shut down."

While efforts to rewrite telecommunications laws often languish in obscurity, advocacy groups and corporations have raised public alarms about the section of the 34-page bill pertaining to Net neutrality (also called network neutrality).

Opponents of the bill's Net neutrality portion say it doesn't go far enough to target possible errant behavior by AT&T, Verizon Communications and other broadband providers. A "Save the Internet" coalition has even been created and boasts members such as the left-leaning Moveon.org, the American Library Association and the libertarian-conservative group Gun Owners of America.

The groups say the Federal Communications Commission must be given power to prevent broadband providers from doing things like charging content providers extra for the privilege of faster delivery or other preferential treatment.

"Did the Bells create the Internet? Did the cable companies create the Internet?" asked Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat and sponsor of the amendment. "The answer is no. The Internet was built on a different model, a public interest model, funded by American taxpayers."

For their part, major broadband providers have repeatedly pledged not to block traffic or censor Web sites. Instead, they say, it will only be economically feasible to invest in higher-speed links if some bandwidth can be reserved for paid content. In an interview with CNET News.com, for instance, Verizon Chief Technology Officer Mark Wegleitner said movie-quality video could be delivered to DSL subscribers if the copyright owner would pay.

Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican and committee chairman, pressured his fellow GOP members to vote against Markey's amendment--even going so far as to remind them that he opposed it and to call in wayward colleagues who had strayed out into the hallway.

Net neutrality is "still not clearly defined," Barton said. "It's kind of like pornography: You know it when you see it."

Barton argued that Net neutrality proponents were overstating their case and exaggerating the dangers of a more laissez-faire approach. "I don't think all the Draconian things they (predict) will happen if we don't adopt their amendment," he said.

Because the committee has a GOP majority, Markey's amendment never had a chance of passing unless some Republicans could be convinced to defect from the party line. Activist groups had tried to ratchet up the pressure, with a letter-writing campaign to politicians, and announcing early Wednesday that Intel had joined the Net neutrality coalition.

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22 comments

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Republicans, Hear This
You have lost voters from your own party, of which I am one. You have allowed the president to lie us into war, you have squandered a budget surplus and placed this country in debt, and you continue to promote laws that invade our privacy.

You will lose in November. You have forced GOP people of goodwill to do the unthinkable and cross over to vote for the opposition party. It disgusts me that you have ruined a once honorable party, and your actions are patently un-American.
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh give me a break!
That bill was such a poorly written hack that the only reasonable
thing to do was kill it! The ONLY thing worse than "no bill" would
have been a bad one, and this thing would have created loopholes
for decades to come. Decades? Hell. We'd have NEVER recovered
from it.
Go back to the drawing boards and get it right and it'll pass.
Posted by GGGlen (491 comments )
Link Flag
Republicans, Hear This? - You're No Conservative
You are no conservative, whoever you are. Just another lefty
pawning off yet another false front. Why can't you all just be
yourselves instead of posting deceitful avatars? Is your message so
lousy that you have to pretend to be something you're not?

This was a lousy, poorly written bill.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://espellahumanzee.blogspot.com/" target="_newWindow">http://espellahumanzee.blogspot.com/</a> for real conservatives.
Posted by cjohn17 (268 comments )
Link Flag
WMD in After Hour Trading ; I know I posted after the Gold Rush @ $563.Loom
This is an embarrasment to Brookworst mints and pillow cases. Butta, I'll tell you this, a long story from home. My (MDA) insurance has moved to Moscow this season to leave an open spot in the immagration bill that just passed Congress for 2010. Must be damn important; they come to my door and won't even take my social security number before asking for only my name. Curious? You too can own my identity for a mere $29.97, as the story ends, aslong as I don't give it to you. Thank you, thank you.

keep up the fight; there's more money going demo for 2008 election campaigns; just check with the Republican Convention allocation figures for hot topic into the cheneybushinc.com.

Latte Grande, please and a slice.
Posted by Pop4 (88 comments )
Link Flag
Well said.
Unfortunately, most conservatives and republicans that have not already left the sinking ship - have backed themselves so tightly into their self created, narrow minded, uninformed, political corner, that only electoral dynamite can blast them out - but of course only if the voters note who they are. Regardless of how well or not this bill was written, those that don't understand the issue - not only still don't but sadly don't have the ability to understand. Its up to those who do understand the value of Net neutrality to spread the word and alarm of what the loss of it means.
Posted by masonx (244 comments )
Link Flag
I'm conservative...but Republicans need to go
I will vote Democrat straight down the ticket in the next election and I originally supported Bush.

He's doing nothing on immigration, although he claims to have deported 6 million people, somehow he doesn't believe we can round up the other 12 and will not protect the border at all...but somehow thinks we can setup a democracy in Iraq with no problem? If we can't round up some illegals, how can we rebuild a nation and re-educate whole cultures?

They are being idiots with this internet bill as well.

Now they are investigation gas prices. For cryin out loud, you have a war in Iraq, Iran rattling the saber, no new refineries since 1972, only 2 of 25 Gulf Coast refineries operating, Nigerian oil mostly shut down, and 100 oil rigs destroyed by hurricanes and Venezuela rattling the saber too. Oil prices are half what they are in Europe. Get over it. Start building refineries and drilling if you want the prices to drop and investing alternative fuels.

It's not that I support the Democrats who want to tax everything and run and cower everytime someone threatens us, but a message needs to be sent and I will send it.

Republicans will lose big time next elections. Trust me.
Posted by enzomedici (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What a Phony!! Nothing worse than a Dem. trying to mislead the public.
Every Republican can see through those Phony words.
What a fake. First and foremost... Stop trying
to mislead the public with statments like
"I'm voting Democrat from now on.." I've not ever
even heard this from any one on my side of the fence. You Libs... get carried away. It's sick.
Posted by mikesidea (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ignoring politics
I had an easy way to assess the argument for/against tiers. Change the word bandwidth to beer.

The argument THEN becomes, company A should pay the same amount for 2 six-packs, that company B pays for 1 six-pack. DOesn't seem as good an argument to have a 1-size-fits-all pricing structure, now does it ?

Sounds like Company B might as well buy 2 six-packs, even if they WASTE some - they don't pay anymore, do they. In the end, if there is a single price on bandwidth - it's just us consumers that WILL eventually end up paying more for the waste.
Posted by DryHeatDave (79 comments )
Reply Link Flag
EXACTLY
You nailed it, man. Price-fixing at the legislative level reeks of communism. We certainly do not need more US government control over the Internet. If the lawmakers knew the proper way to create, price, market, and sell an Internet service... they'd be running Internet companies.

The net IS neutral. What the Dems want, is to eliminate rights and freedoms by dictating how much you pay and how much companies can charge, and how those companies can structure their service.

The net is free.
The net is neutral.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
What a Phony!! Nothing worse than a GOP Rep trying to mislead the public.
Every American can see through mikesidea's and other's words.

What a fake. First and foremost... Stop trying
to mislead the public with statments like
yours. You telecom lobbyists and House reps... get carried away. It's sick.
Posted by MisterFlibble (207 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is a bipartisan issue, those who are against neutrality here...
...like mikek'sidea have even admitted to not hearing about the issue, but those of us who have been following this issue for months on C|NET and other sites are well informed on the issue. Net Neutrality is supported by all degrees of the political spectrum and all different activist groups form both the right and the left, the only ones who would have an issue with supporting net neutrality and the freedoms of the internet are those House reps and senators who wish to vote against it, or the telecom industries and those who are employed by them, I surmise many comments left here and in pat artilces in this subject are left by those very people.
Posted by MisterFlibble (207 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HOUSE VICTORY!!
Anybody interested in FREEDOM, as in free speech, should consider this a victory. In the FREE market, you are FREE to choose a provider that offers a service and price that you deem fair. In addition, you are FREE to start your own company and charge what price you decide is fair for the service you provide.

Government dictating pricing structures for Internet service has nothing to do with freedom, and reeks of communist-like control of the free market.

Pricing for services offered by US companies should be dictated by US companies.

Its amazing to me how the anti-government liberals whine and complain about government abuses and percieved failures... and then argue that we need to hand MORE CONTROL of our free markets to the government. What a joke.

the Internet deserves to be "free," as in speech. And this victory is just another win in the fight to preserve that freedom.

Any company that spent the money to build THEIR OWN network, should have the right to charge what they deem a fair price for the services they offer. Don't like it? Find a new provider. The Internet was NOT built on taxpayer dollars - it was built through enormous contributions to private networks. The "Internet" merely connects them all together.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A lack of basic understanding about what you write.
First, you are comparing internet access to private company services - this is not a correct analogy. Internet access is in fact a public utility just like telephone and electrical power. As a public utility they are required to provide equal service to all users. How would you like to pay an additional amount on your electric bill according to how far you were from the power plant and be penalized financially because you could not use as much power as the iron smelter across town. I am all for private companies charging what ever they want in a competitive environment. What separates internet access - is that there are too few providers to have fair competition. Consequently it is a utility. This is precisely where the cable companies were allowed to go wrong and its why we have such absurd cable service these days who have almost no competition. Its this same mentality of rape and pillage the consumer that communications and cable companies want to implement to charge you additional if you don't watch their commercials. Did you see the announcement that Phillips Electronics has developed a device that allow cable companies to charge extra if you don't watch their commercials - on C/Net just this week. These are the people that you want to turn unregulated internet services to. I don't think so.
Posted by masonx (244 comments )
Link Flag
House Victory?
Who's paying you? It's alright, we'll keep quiet.
Posted by akesling (9 comments )
Link Flag
I believe the internet should be "OPEN" not closed
I think these Greedy Senseless Money Makers now want to destroy our Freedom Of Speech and force us to pay more money. Heck I think the reason why so much trouble and bad stuff happening anymore is Love Of Money.

Love of Money is the reason why theres lots of murders, lobbying, bank robberies, junk going on like cheating prices (Like gas gouging).

Love of Money is the reason why the average man might not afford medical.

Love of Money is the reason why hard working people go homeless.

Love of Money is the reason why there are porn, drugs, and other illegal activities.

and The Love of Money is the reason why our Earth is polluted, and why we might go more quickly into a Ice Age.

ISPs keep our internet open. If you do I will stay a customer of your service. If you want it all controlled and force the Average Poor Man to pay more money I will quit faster then you say bye bye customer. Now I have the right to cancel service. So I will quit until you say the internet is open again then I will gladly pay fees for getting online
Posted by btalex1990 (24 comments )
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