Hutchison slams net neutrality rules

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) criticized the Federal Communications Commissions net neutrality rules on Friday after they were published in the Federal Register.

“I’m very disappointed that the FCC has decided to move forward with its misguided net neutrality order,” Hutchison said.

“Companies and industries that use broadband communications have flourished over the last decade without government intervention, yet the FCC has chosen to ‘fix’ a problem that does not exist.

Republicans have been heavily critical of the regulations, which prevent Internet service providers from discriminating between similar sources of content. But an attempt by House Republicans to overturn the FCCs order was dead on arrival in the Senate.

“Rather than imposing new, unnecessary regulations on one of the few thriving sectors of our economy, government should get out of the way, and allow new jobs and investment in broadband technologies,” Hutchison said.

“In order to turn back the FCC’s onerous net neutrality restrictions, I will push for a Senate vote this fall on my resolution of disapproval.”

The rules will take effect on Nov. 20; legal challenges are expected from ISPs and other groups arguing the FCC has overreached. A federal judge tossed the FCC’s previous attempt at enforcing net neutrality, and many believe the new rules might not hold up in court.

Supporters including public interest and consumer groups praised the publication of the rules Friday, arguing they would help keep the Internet open and protect innovation. They vowed to defend the regulations in the upcoming legal battle.

“When purchasing Internet service, consumers rightfully expect that they will have equal access to all that the Web offers and shouldn’t be held back because of industry tactics,” said Consumers Union policy counsel Parul Desai.

“As opponents take aim at these important rules, we will keep fighting to ensure the Internet remains open to all.”

Gigi Sohn, co-founder of Public Knowledge, said: “Although we wished they could have been stronger, we believe that the rules approved by the commission are a good start to making certain consumers and innovators are protected from the power of large telephone and cable companies to remake the Internet to suit favored partners. 

“We are prepared to vigorously defend the FCC’s rules in court and in Congress. Congress should allow the litigation to move forward to resolve intricate legal issues without political interference.”