McCain bill aims to block FCC action on net neutrality

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced legislation aimed at prohibiting the FCC from enacting rules that would regulate access to the Internet just hours after the agency voted to formally investigate such rules.

The legislation, called "The Internet Freedom Act of 2009," adds an extra layer of complexity to an issue already seething with heated debate. Interestingly, the action also pits McCain against his former rival; during his campaign last year, Barack Obama threw his support behind net neutrality.

"Today I'm pleased to introduce ‘The Internet Freedom Act of 2009' that will keep the Internet free from government control and regulation," McCain said in a statement. "It will allow for continued innovation that will in turn create more high-paying jobs for the millions of Americans who are out of work or seeking new employment. Keeping businesses free from oppressive regulations is the best stimulus for the current economy."

The FCC, through a proposal pushed Chairman Julius Genachowski, is considering imposing net neutrality regulations against wireless and wireline networks, an action that would require telecom carriers to allow all suitable applications and services to run over their networks.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the chairmen of Congress' commerce committees, sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski signaling their support for the draft rules. The two, who have expressed support for net neutrality in the past, said that they continued to support "policies that protect consumers and promote an open Internet," and expected to commission to "make every effort to consider all voices prior to voting on final rules."

Comments on the FCC's draft net neutrality rules are due Jan. 14, with reply comments due March 5.

For more:
- see this McCain release
- see this Waxman-Rockefeller letter

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