Net neutrality rules proposed; GOP pushes back

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On Friday, we reported that the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, would propose that Internet Service Providers be forbidden from blocking users with slow web connections. And today, he did – announcing a sweeping set of rules prohibiting discrimination on the nation's telecommunications services.

"The rise of serious challenges to the free and open Internet puts us at a crossroads. We could see the Internet's doors shut to entrepreneurs, the spirit of innovation stifled, a full and free flow of information compromised," Genachowski said today in a speech at the Brookings Institution. "Or we could take steps to preserve Internet openness, helping ensure a future of opportunity, innovation and a vibrant marketplace."

The news was greeted with enthusiasm by open Web advocates. But not everyone was pleased. In a statement released on Monday, Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson said she would introduce a bill to prevent the FCC from spending money on new regulations.

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"I am deeply concerned by the direction the FCC appears to be heading," said Hutchinson, who is the ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. "These new regulatory mandates and restrictions could stifle investment incentives."

At issue is “Net neutrality” – the principle, as Andrew LaVallee of the Journal puts it, that “all Internet providers should treat all data equally and avoid restricting or delaying access to certain sites.” Over the past few years, many large ISPs, including Comcast, have pushed back against previous FCC efforts to enforce net neutrality.

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