Lawmaker’s net neutrality compromise: Solution or last gasp?

As House Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., prepares to release his legislative proposal for new rules to preserve an open internet, a leaked version reveals that it would limit the FCC’s authority to enforce net neutrality, Ars Technica reports. According to the leaked draft, internet service providers (ISPs) would be forbidden to “unjustly or unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful traffic over a consumer’s wireline broadband internet access service.” But the proposal would not apply to wireless broadband, and the FCC would be given no new rulemaking authorities regarding ISPs. If that sounds familiar, it should: It bears a very strong resemblance to the Google/Verizon “compromise” plan on net neutrality released to great dismay from public-interest groups in August. How did we get from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s proposals for clear net-neutrality enforcement and ISP transparency rules to this? First, factor in massive pushback, threats of lawsuits, and Capitol Hill lobbying from ISPs. Next, plug in a bitterly partisan midterm election year, which seems to have scared the daylights out of the Obama administration. Various D.C. folk have said they believe the FCC’s reluctance to carry out its own agenda is a by-product of pressure from the White House itself…

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Laura Ascione

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