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In a significant development, Republicans in the House and Senate have introduced net neutrality bills that would strip the Federal Communications Commission of its ability to effectively regulate the internet.
The new legislation is being looked upon as a way to deregulate the telecom industry by curbing the FCC’s powers. Interestingly, this kind of legislation is being championed by politicians with financial ties to the telecom industry.
Fred Upton, the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is a key force behind the bill. Upton, who has investments in AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, said in a statement that by turning the FCC away from a heavy-handed and messy approach to regulating the Internet, the draft protects both consumers who rely on Internet services and innovators who create jobs.
Though a White House official said that new net neutrality legislation is not necessary, President Obama recommended a plan that would reclassify internet providers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, giving the government agency more teeth to quash telecom giants’ plans to create internet fast lanes.
The bills introduced by the GOP congressmen, however, do not reclassify internet providers in that way. Instead, they would neuter the FCC’s regulatory powers, which would reduce the amount of government oversight on internet providers.