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After taking phone giants' money, these Republicans want to kill net neutrality

More than 30 members of Congress are rallying behind a bill -- ironically named the 'Internet Freedom Act' -- that threatens the new rules introduced by the FCC.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN, 7th)
(Image: CBS News, Chris Usher)

Evidently, not everyone in Congress is happy with the new net neutrality rules.

A new bill introduced in early March aims to (at least in name) prevent "imposing certain regulations" on internet providers, while in reality -- where most live nowadays -- it prohibits new internet fairness rules from being imposed.

The problem is while the bill [PDF] includes the word "freedom," it appears just once -- and only in the bill's title. The bill, just over 150 words in length, is designed solely to undo a recent vote by the Federal Communications Commission that effectively made every internet user in the US equal.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who has taken a total of six-figures from telecom companies in the past year alone, according to records ending in early February 2015.

The Internet Freedom Act, an ironically-named bill currently making its way through the House, aims to "prohibit" the regulations adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) late last month.

Those regulations, by a 3-2 vote in favor, adopted net neutrality rules, which will reclassify internet service as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act. The FCC rules aim to make sure that all traffic on the internet is treated equally, ensuring every user regardless of provider or service gets the same service.

But cable, wireless, and phone companies have seen the reclassification as a "nuclear option," with the potential for far-reaching unintended consequences, such as imposing new taxes and hurting investments.

Enter Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, who also serves as vice chair of the House Energy & Commerce committee where the bill is currently being considered.

Blackburn's reasoning behind her bid to reintroduce the bill was because the "Obama administration will stop at nothing in their efforts to control the Internet."

Blackburn took approximately $102,500 in donations from various cable groups, phone companies, and industry lobbying groups last year -- including a donation of $25,000 from AT&T, as well as $20,000 from Comcast and $16,000 from Verizon.

There are 31 Republican members on the committee. Two-thirds of her like-minded committee colleagues are co-sponsoring the bill, making the bill's passage through committee considerably easier. (Not a single Democrat has put their name behind the bill).

Almost every one of the Republican committee members co-sponsoring the bill had taken donor money from a telecoms company. AT&T was the most common donor across the committee, followed by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), which has previously called the net neutrality rules a "disaster."

Other congressmen co-sponsoring the bill have taken considerable donations from companies who have directly opposed net neutrality rules, including Rep. Michael Burgess who received $20,000 from AT&T and the NCTA,

According to GovTrack, the bill only has a 1 percent chance of being enacted.

Even if it were to pass both the House and the Senate, the Obama administration has hinted it would strike down any legislation that aimed to unwind the net neutrality rules.

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