Senate upholds FCC net neutrality rules


The battle over network neutrality has been waged on a continual basis in Washington DC for quite some time now. After much strenuous effort and many tug-of-war matches, the FCC finally cobbled together what it branded a middle-approach to network neutrality. Senate Republicans attempted to derail it with a Resolution of Disapproval, but failed to get the necessary votes.

The Resolution went down on a 52-46 vote.

The FCC’s regimen, which strives to assure that all websites are treated equally by ISPs, managed to cause cries of alarm from both sides of the issue, which consumer activists and many Democrats saying they didn’t go far enough, and with business interests and many Republicans calling them government overreach to solve a problem that does not even exist. If nothing else, that dual reaction to the body of regulation achieved by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski does suggest that some sort of a middle ground was achieved.

However, whereas Democrats have by and large signed off on it as at the very least better than nothing, it still is criticized by Republicans, hence the latest vote.

The Resolution of Disapproval was a little-used legislative technique dredged up a few years back by former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND). It allows a majority to reject the work of a regulatory agency, removes all force from the agency’s action and essentially sends the agency back to the drawing board. Dorgan dredged the technique up in protest of the ownership deregulation attempt put forth by former FCC Chairman Michael Powell.

The FCC’s regulations are due to go into effect 11/20/11, but the failure of the attempt to stop them in the Senate isn’t the final chapter to this story – watch for the next attempt to undo the rules to take place in the judicial system.