House votes to kill net neutrality rules

The House of Representatives voted on a measure to invalidate the FCC's rules on net neutrality. House Republicans--joined by six Democrats--voted 240-179 to approve the legislation.

There's similar legislation in the Senate, but it is likely that President Obama--a supporter of net neutrality--would veto any such legislation, were it to reach his desk.

The action is the latest knock against the FCC's rules for net neutrality, which would bar wireless carriers from blocking services such as Google Voice and Skype that compete with their own voice and video offerings, as well as those in which they have an attributable interest.

Wireless carriers also face transparency requirements on network management policies and a basic "no-blocking" rule on lawful content and applications. The FCC passed the rules late last year on a 3-2, party-line vote.

"The FCC has never had the authority to regulate the Internet," said Republican Representative Cliff Stearns, according to Reuters, summing up most Republicans' position on the issue.

As Republicans work to overturn the FCC's net neutrality rules from a legislative standpoint, telecom giants like Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) are mounting legal assaults. A federal appeals court recently tossed out lawsuits by Verizon and MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) that challenged the FCC's net neutrality rules, arguing that the suits were filed too soon. However, Verizon indicated it will re-file its complaint against the FCC's rules for wireless and wired networks.

Interestingly, some public-interest groups said they could file lawsuits from the opposite direction, in an effort to strengthen rules they believe are not strong enough.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Reuters article
- see this Broadcasting & Cable article

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