It was a case of dueling legislators Wednesday (Apr. 14) as
the Senate Commerce Committee prepared to quiz FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
on the national broadband plan.
While committee member Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) was asking
Web surfers to tell their senators they were passionate about network
neutrality and backed the FCC majority on the issue, house Energy &
Commerce Committee member Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) was taking to the Tennessean newspaper and Web site to
decry the commission's "naked power grab disguised by the warm and fuzzy
term 'net neutrality.'"
She said the D.C. appeals court got it right last week and
that its message was that the FCC "lacks the authority to regulate how
Internet service providers manage their networks and deliver online content
without express permission from Congress." The court ruled that the
commission had not sufficiently identified the statutory authority under which
it found that Comcast's network management violated its open internet
Blackburn said it was up to
Congress to weigh in with the final word on that authority, something AT&T
and other network providers have also advised. But she also served notice to
the industry that the next step was theirs.
"The broadband industry has a finite opportunity before
Congress issues that final word," she said. "Unless ISPs create a
robust, self-policing structure to assure the public that the Internet is an
open marketplace where property rights, both material and intellectual, can be
enforced, they invite the kind of regulation I know will stifle future growth."