OVERNIGHT TECH: GOP reps back Verizon net-neutrality challenge

Energy and Commerce Republicans praise Verizon for challenging FCC in court

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee cheered Verizon on Thursday for challenging the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) recently passed net-neutrality rules. Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) joined Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) in praising the move.

"We welcome the decision by Verizon, and hopefully others, to demand their day in court to block the FCC's misguided attempt to regulate the Internet. At stake is not just innovation and economic growth, although those concerns are vital," the congressmen said.

"Equally important is putting a check on an FCC that is acting beyond the authority granted to it by Congress. Between our legislative efforts and this court action, we will put the FCC back on firmer ground."

Verizon filed its challenge in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the same court that rejected the FCC's attempt to impose net neutrality last year.

Verizon deputy general counsel Michael Glover said the firm is "deeply concerned by the FCC’s assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the Internet itself."

"We believe this assertion of authority goes well beyond any authority provided by Congress and creates uncertainty for the communications industry, innovators, investors and consumers," Glover added.

Verizon had previously said it didn't support the FCC's plan, in contrast to rival AT&T, which has indicated it can accept the rules. In conjunction with Google, Verizon unveiled its own net-neutrality proposal last summer, featuring less stringent rules than the proposal adopted by the FCC.

Consumers Union policy counsel Parul Desai took issue with Verizon's argument that the rules create uncertainty for the industry and consumers.

“These rules are needed to make sure the Internet remains open and consumer-friendly,” Desai said.


“Consumers should be able to surf the Web without their Internet provider limiting their choices to its preferred sites. Verizon’s assertion that these rules create ‘uncertainty’ for consumers just doesn’t hold water. The rules bring clarity and focus to a situation that’s been hanging in limbo for years.”

Read more in The Hill: http://bit.ly/elDJz4

Eric Schmidt steps aside as Google CEO, Larry Page to take over

Google co-founder Larry Page will replace Eric Schmidt as CEO on April 4, Schmidt announced Thursday.

Schmidt will become executive chairman of the search giant, focusing on outreach to the government and external partners. A Washington native, Schmidt campaigned for President Obama in 2008 and has close ties to the White House.

Page will take over daily operations and will lead product development and technology strategy. The firm's other co-founder, Sergey Brin, will focus on new products.

Issa asks public for feedback

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) unveiled a website on Thursday that solicits feedback from the public on which government regulations are holding them back.

"Where does Washington help and where does it hurt?" Issa says in a video announcing the effort. See the video here: http://bit.ly/haQdND

Speaking of regulations, the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight subcommittee is planning to hold a hearing next week on President Obama's plan to review all existing regulations. Read more: http://bit.ly/fDOl0c

Towns to be ranking member on Oversight subcommittee

Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) will take over as ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Government Organization, Efficiency and Financial Management just weeks after being pushed out of the top Democratic spot on the full panel.

Towns stepped down from the top Democratic spot on the panel after Democratic leaders told him they wanted the more combative Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in that role to spar with new chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who is expected to investigate all corners of the Obama administration.

Cummings on Thursday tapped Towns as the ranking member of the subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the government management and accounting measures, the economy, efficiency and management of government operations and reorganizations of the executive branch, among other areas. Read more: http://bit.ly/exxbwt

Can't-miss news.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) lays out the committee's agenda http://bit.ly/fsAJMz

The Catholic bishops like net neutrality http://bit.ly/fMgBpB

So does Dennis Kucinich, which is why he's worried Comcast's acquisition of NBC will imperil the open Web http://bit.ly/gqbRmq

But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) doesn't, which is why he's not happy net neutrality was one of the conditions on the merger http://bit.ly/fU1AaJ

Meg Whitman and four others join HP's board of directors http://bit.ly/fbnPoD

FCC member Meredith Attwell Baker (R) is still open to a possible D Block spectrum auction http://bit.ly/hBEDkk

GAO says DHS is making progress improving E-Verify http://bit.ly/h2dlK7

Said.

"Do not let [the Internet] be controlled by governments or by large corporations. It is a network of people."

— Former Vice President Al Gore, during a rousing speech at the Campus Party Brazil conference this week. http://bit.ly/gr5Kdv