Goodbye Net Neutrality, We Hardly Knew Ye

by Matt Klassen on March 2, 2011

In the fight for a more open and accountable Internet, one thing has become abundantly clear, Republicans don’t like it, which is to say, Net Neutrality is unethical, un-American, unchristian and should it continue to control how Internet providers do business, it will surely unravel the very fabric of American society.

To that end, in a recent statement Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner said he will do everything in his power to pass legislation that would stop the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from continuing to impose the Net Neutrality regulations it implemented late last year.

Further, a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee is planning a vote this morning to decide whether or not to move forward with rescinding the controversial open internet regulations, a vote that could see the beginning of the end for Net Neutralty…that is unless President Obama has anything to say about (and he does).

Still exhibiting a Reagan-esque fear of the encroachment of socialism, Boehner and his Republican ilk are doing their best to make the American public equate Net Neutrality with government interference and control, arguing that Net Neutrality, as with all socialist programs (especially heath care) ultimately hurts the little guy, the average American working stiff. The average American doesn’t want the government interfering with the Internet, because, well, that would mean…bad…things…I think.

Of course if Boehner actually represented anyone remotely ‘average,’ as opposed to acting as a governmental mouthpiece for anti-Net Neutrality lobbyists, he may actually see that Net Neutrality offers the American public a chance, through their elected officials, to fight back against big business; to tell the Internet providers that they won’t stand to be gouged any longer, that they won’t allow their bought-and-paid-for Internet to be unnecessarily throttled, and that they demand more transparency from the communications sector…all good things in my mind.

But while both the Senate and the House argue over the legality of the FCC’s Net Neutrality, there is still one saving grace, the presidential veto. In the case of an official resolution of disapproval, which was introduced last month in the House, it requires votes from both the House and the Senate, and is notably subject to Obama’s veto.

For his part, the President has long supported the FCC’s push towards Net Neutrality, going so far as to task Chairman Julius Genachowski with the mandate to bring more stability and regulation to the Internet.

So is this the end of Net Neutrality? If Obama chooses not to use his presidential veto to nix the entire process, I fear that it might be, at least for this incarnation of the regulations. That being said, such a vote of disapproval would once again call into question the power, if any, of the FCC, as it has seen every decision its made in recent times overturned or otherwise called into question.

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