Net neutrality? Not in this House

The House definitively rejected Net neutrality yesterday, voting down 269-152 Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)'s amendment that would have forbidden telecom companies from charging a premium to certain content providers.

The House definitively rejected Net neutrality yesterday, voting down 269-152 Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)'s amendment that would have forbidden telecom companies from charging a premium to certain content providers, News.com reports.

"The future Sergey Brins, the future Marc Andreessens, of Netscape and Google...are going to have to pay taxes" to broadband providers, said Rep. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat behind the Net neutrality amendment. This vote will change "the Internet for the rest of eternity," he warned.

Markey was trying to amend the COPE (Communications, Opportuntiy, Promotion and Enhancement) Act (and if that isn't a self-explanatory name for a law, than what is?), which would allow telephone companies to compete with cable to deliver television over wires. Republicans and phone companies say the law has sufficient net neutrality provisions.

Defenders of the COPE Act, largely Republicans, dismissed worries about Net neutrality as fear mongering.

"I want a vibrant Internet just like they do," said Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican. "Our disagreement is about how to achieve that. They say let the government dictate it...I urge my colleagues to reject government regulation of the Internet."

The whole issue got very inside-the-Beltway, when earlier versions of COPE appeared to alter antitrust laws in a way that would rip some power from the House Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary approved a net neutrality provision in a move that seemed to have more to do with House politics than the Internet. A last-minute compromise restored Judiciary's influence.

Next step: Congress. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

High-tech leaders and consumer groups said they would carry their fight to the Senate, which is in the early stages of considering its own version of the House bill.

"We're disappointed, but I can't say we're surprised," said Gigi Sohn, president of the consumer interest group Public Knowledge. "We are hoping for something a lot better in the Senate."

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