The Federal Communications Commission is set to approve on Tuesday Chairman Julius Genachowski's proposed rules governing net neutrality—a concept aimed at preventing Internet providers from interfering with web traffic.
The rules are expected to bar providers from discriminating against legal Internet traffic and require more transparency. They also would let broadband providers for the first time charge more to companies that want faster service for delivery of games, videos or other services.
Net neutrality has become a contentious issue as worries grow that large phone and cable companies are growing too powerful as Internet gatekeepers. Start-ups and small businesses that rely on the Internet to provide shopping, information or other services to consumers are particularly concerned.
The FCC has wanted to step in and act as an Internet traffic cop, but Congress has never given it clear authority to do so.
Both sides of the political aisle oppose this move, but for different reasons:
The proposal has split the five-member FCC board. The two Republican members say the proposed rules impose an unneeded burden and will discourage broadband investment.
Mr. Genachowski's two Democratic colleagues said his plan didn't go far enough, particularly on rules covering wireless networks, but agreed to back it anyway.
Then of course you have the legal issue of whether the FCC has the authority to impose this type of regulation on the Internet:
The rules are also expected to be challenged in court. Similar rules proposed by the agency in 2005 were thrown out by a federal appeals court in April.
In April, a federal appeals court tossed the FCC's first effort to enforce net neutrality rules, saying the agency hadn't justified its authority to act. The current proposal is expected to use a similar argument to the one used in the April case.
In May, the FCC's general counsel said using a variation on the same argument was "a recipe for prolonged uncertainty" but FCC lawyers now say upon further consideration, they believe their plan will withstand challenge.
Mitch McConnell, via The Hill, who will control the House of Representatives come January, are vowing to "push back against new rules and regulations."
The Obama Administration, which has already nationalized health care, the auto industry, insurance companies, banks and student loans, will move forward with what could be a first step in controlling how Americans use the Internet by establishing federal regulations on its use," he said.
McConnell argued that the effort will hurt investment, innovation, and employment.
"The Internet is an invaluable resource. It should be left alone," he said.
H/T Hot Air, video of Mitch McConnell released last night, shown below:
The buzz surrounding this controversial move by the FCC can be seen across the blogosphere already, with liberals believing the proposal doesn't create enough regulation and conservatives believing the FCC doesn't have the authority or congressional approval to enforce their new net neutrality rules, nor should they even be trying to grab power over the Internet by creating a problem where there is none.