Internet regulation proposal sets off political firestorm
December 21st, 2010
11:03 AM ET
4 years ago

Internet regulation proposal sets off political firestorm

(CNN) - The Obama administration is facing a fresh round of heat from Republicans Tuesday amid the passage of a Federal Communications Commission proposal that aims to impart new regulations on internet providers.

The so-called "net neutrality" rules, proposed by the Obama administration, is the federal government's most high-profile move yet in connection with a debate nearly as old as the modern-day Internet itself. The proposed rules would require high-speed providers to treat all types of Web content equally, instead of allowing providers to favor some types of websites or apps at the expense of others.

While some Democrats say the proposal doesn't go far enough in leveling the Internet playing field, Republican critics – including the two on the five-panel FCC commission - say it is the latest example of government overreach into a place it has no business to be.

"Analysts and broadband companies of all sizes have told the FCC that new rules are likely to have the perverse effect of inhibiting capital investment, deterring innovation, raising operating costs, and ultimately increasing consumer prices. Others maintain that the new rules will kill jobs," wrote Robert McDowell, a Republican member of the FCC, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Meredith Atwell Baker, the second Republican member of the FCC, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that the Democrat-dominated panel is "intervening to regulate the Internet because it wants to, not because it needs to."

"Preserving the openness and freedom of the Internet is non-negotiable; it is a bedrock principle shared by all in the Internet economy. No government action is necessary to preserve it," wrote Atwell Baker.

The same sentiment was echoed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday:

"Today the Obama administration, which has already nationalized health care, the auto industry, insurance companies, banks and student loans, will move forward with what could be the first step in controlling how Americans use the internet by establishing federal regulations on its use," he said in a speech on the Senate Flor. "This would harm investment, stifle innovation and lead to job losses. That's why I along with several of my colleagues have urged the FCC chairman to abandon this flawed approach."

Meanwhile, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the top Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, filed an amendment last week in an effort to halt implementation of the new provisions. Twenty-nine Republican senators also wrote to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat, last week to register their opposition to the proposal and urge him to abandon it.

But Some Republicans have gone even further in their criticisms, saying it constitutes an effort on behalf of the Obama administration to censor the Internet.

"Let's face it, what's the Obama administration doing? They're advocating net neutrality which is essentially censorship of the Internet," GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann said earlier this year. "This is the Obama administration advocating censorship of the Internet. Why? They want to silence the voices that are opposing them."

"This could be the very worst "Merry Christmas" present that you have ever received… Internet freedoms may VANISH!" wrote the United States Justice Foundation, a conservative group, in an e-mail to supporters.

"We've got to minimize the damage done by the FCC this month," added RedState.org blogger Neil Stevens earlier this month. "We need a light, light, light touch if we have to have regulation at all."

But in a clear illustration of just how divisive the issue has become, Democratic Sen. Al Franken is slamming the proposal as too lenient to broadband providers.

"Instead of proposing regulations that would truly protect net neutrality, reports indicate that Chairman [Julius] Genachowski has been calling the CEOs of major Internet corporations seeking their public endorsement of this draft proposal, which would destroy it," Franken wrote on The Huffington Post. "No chairman should be soliciting sign-off from the corporations that his agency is supposed to regulate."

Michael Copps, a Democrat member of the commission, said in a written statement that he won't block the plan after weeks of trying to make it tougher.

"The item we will vote on tomorrow is not the one I would have crafted," Copps said. "But I believe we have been able to make the current iteration better than what was originally circulated.

– CNN.com's Doug Gross contributed to this report


Filed under: Net Neutrality • President Obama
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Please

    "Analysts and broadband companies of all sizes have told the FCC that new rules are likely to have the perverse effect of inhibiting capital investment, deterring innovation, raising operating costs, and ultimately increasing consumer prices. Others maintain that the new rules will kill jobs," wrote Robert McDowell, a Republican member of the FCC, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

    Complete BS – we need net neutrality, if not Comcast is going to control the internet in this country. Keep the net open, don't let the providers decide which content gets through.

    December 21, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. Who Cares?

    So wanting internet providers to not REGULATE internet speed based off of money, political leanings, etc is a bad thing to Republicans? Is there anything they want that isn't based off class warfare and money?

    December 21, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. Democrats Class Warfare - Destroying the economy and country

    Just another example of the leftists in our government trying to destroy and control as much as they can while they are in office. The "problem" they are trying to solve exists ONLY in THEIR MIND. This administration and the leftists that are now part of it are a DANGER TO FREEDOM IN THIS COUNTRY. These people MUST be removed in 2012 and their destructives policies dismantled and removed. Our liberty COUNTS on it!

    December 21, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. Superhiro

    Figures the GOP would try to block this for their coporate masters. Comcast already runs their internet service like the Third Reich so yea... we need this bill.

    December 21, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. Tony Z

    Let me understand the issue- The Republicans who block everything and read nothing are against Net Netraulity. Maybe they should understand the English language. What this is doing is treating all IP traffic equal.

    December 21, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  6. KS

    This is such crap – Net Neutrality – the Jews also believed little lies like this right before Hitler threw them into concentration camps!! Don't be so DUMB people!!!

    Did anyone take a history class?? WOW!! 90% of Americans are so dumb!!

    December 21, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  7. Kliver

    Republican opposition to net neutrality is laughable, especially the part about censorship. It isn't about controlling how Americans use the Internet, it's about preventing ISPs from hampering access to the Internet. The new law requires ISPs to treat all traffic equally, instead of continuing the ISP industry practice of slowing competitors' traffic and facilitating partners' traffic. The Internet must be the property of the people, not the subject of corporatization that would ultimately block everyday citizens from posting whatever they want, in this new forum of free speech.

    December 21, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    We need every business, charity and legitmate service organization to have equal speeds to those that are searching for content. We shouldn't have major businesses shutting out smaller ones because they don't have the money to spend for that faster internet connection.

    December 21, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. johnkc

    Personally, as far as internet neutrality and neutrality on television and radio, I trust the republicans just as far as I could throw them. The republicans would like to turn the internet into the neutrality world of Fox News. We all get enough right leaning propaganda from Fox without seeing it every day on the internet and other mediums.

    December 21, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. MPeters

    Bachmann is off her rocker again. How logical is it to say that ISP's aren't allowed to favor one speech over any other (i.e., Content from youtube is treated the same as content from Comcast, as is treated from an Australian hanggliding company) is "censorship"? Its the exact opposite of censorship. Freaking Loon.

    Also, Republicans only hate this because it tells Corporations that they can't buy easier access to their products and further squeeze out smaller businesses and corporations. Its all about Big Business. This is a win for small business.

    December 21, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. what is so wrong with needing ID to get online in the USA?

    I would have no problem showing who I am online and maybe it would be a good thing for the whole internet ,because it would sure end a lot of the BS going on in the internet now days.No more hiding behind false identities would be a very good thing.

    December 21, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  12. Klivery

    Republican opposition to net neutrality is laughable, especially the part about censorship. It isn't about controlling how Americans use the Internet, it's about preventing ISPs from hampering access to the Internet. The new law requires ISPs to treat all traffic equally, instead of continuing the ISP industry practice of slowing non-partner traffic and facilitating partners' traffic. The Internet must be the property of the people, not the subject of corporatization that would ultimately block everyday citizens from posting whatever they want, in this new forum of free speech.

    December 21, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  13. Cheryl2

    Only the republicans would cut down a law that allows for freedom of use for Americans , while advocating regulations that would cost Americans internet freedom and affordability. They are so perverse the law protecting the internet is called "regulations" and what they want to do, subject the internet to a popularity contest controlled by corporations, is called "freedom".

    December 21, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  14. williamstaerk

    You know what You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price by searching online for "Wise Health Insurance" If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

    December 21, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. commonsense101

    This is stupid, we have free speech for a reason

    December 21, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  16. Anthony S.

    How in the world is Network Neutrality cencorship? The whole concept of net neutrality is to promote the freedom and creativity that we've already seen blossom from the internet. Do we really need anyone sticking their hands further in our pockets? We'll see how much all of our politicians like it when they have to pay for premium packages so the can tweet their smack talk about the other party.

    December 21, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. ThinkAgain

    Net neutrality guarantees that companies – who lease access to the Internet from the government – cannot arbitrarily censor access to the Internet.

    Republicans want the ability to censor access in the hands of broadband companies – who will use this ability to limit access to their competitors and their political enemies.

    Net neutrality is essential to guaranteeing our freedom of speech.

    December 21, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  18. ThinkAgain

    Broadband companies lease the airwaves from the government.

    In order to offset this expense (more than they already do through advertising), if broadband companies want to set up pricing structures and contracts, where people who pay more get a bigger bandwidth, then that's fine. The resulting contract would protect the consumer.

    But perhaps that's what broadband companies are afraid of: Being legally obligated to honor contracts with their customers.

    December 21, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. ChumBucket

    Hipocracy of the highest order!!!

    The absolute ONLY reason you libs arn't screaming bloody murder over this gov. takover of the internet, is because the obama administration is the ones presenting it.

    You people are so intellectually dishonest, if it were the repubs putting this forward you'd all be livid.

    You people need to get a life.

    December 21, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. MRobinson

    I believe that all content should be allowed to move across the internet at equal speeds, but I run into problems getting my arms around all people paying the same amount of money regardless of how much content the move across the internet. Somebody has to pay the freight here, so if a company who provides the broadband access to the internet has to spend $1b upgrading their system because of 20% of their customers downloading huge movie files from one of their competitors, who pays for the upgrade? The other 80% of the customers who download e-mail files and visit cnn.com twice a day? With the ability to move huge amounts of data should go the responsibility to pay for that service. If net neutrality is a basic right of the citizens, as I personally believe it should be across the globe, then let's pay for it in some way and support those companies who can provide it to us.

    December 21, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  21. cearnshaw

    If Internet neutrality becomes the law you can either expect to pay more for your Internet or expect your web surfing to crawl, simply because your neighbors are consuming all the available bandwidth watching Netflix. I own a small wireless ISP, and allowing us to treat different services differently allows us to preserve the experience for everyone, not just the bandwidth hogs. If you show up at an all-you-can-eat buffet every day and eat enough for ten people, the restaurant owner is either going to have to limit you, charge you more or go out of business.

    December 21, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |