House votes to repeal regs on Internet access

Posted April 09, 2011, at 2:10 p.m.

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 interfering with traffic on 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 intervene in 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. Sen. John D. Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said he was “disappointed that House leadership wants to undo the integrity of the FCC’s process and unravel their good work.”

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.”

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