House nixes Net Neutrality language

A Net Neutrality amendment to telecom legislation was turned away by a key subcommittee. With hopes dimming, advocates turn to the Senate.

The House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet turned away an amendment that would strengthen net neutrality rules, Ecommerce Times reports.

The amendment, put forward by Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, would have made it illegal for broadband carriers to stop competing Web content and services from being delivered. The bill would have also ordered the Federal Communications Commission Latest News about Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to put a process in place to allow rapid investigation of complaints about blocking.

The telecom reform bill approved by the subcommittee, however, would only allow the FCC to investigate blocking abuses after the fact, but would prohibit the agency from creating new Net neutrality rules.

The vote pretty much means there will no net neutrality in the final bill that comes to the House floor, and advocates attention now switches to the Senate, where three approaches are vying for inclusion.

Most current bills let "the Bells and cable companies determine the country's 'digital destiny,'" said Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) Executive Director Jeff Chester. The CDD has launched a grassroots campaign aimed at gaining public support for an open network approach. The group worries that in addition to blocking smaller companies from using their networks, major companies will eventually assert control over content and have extensive reach into users' private lives.

"Unless there is action, we will have a wonderful new medium for advertising and entertainment from Big Media companies -- but a poor one for democratic discourse, alternative expression and political dissent," he said.