In response to a scare generated by an imaginary bill, a House panel last week passed a measure to ensure ISPs can keep charging flat rates.
The bill, passed by the House Commerce Committee, forbids the FCC from levying on ISPs any per-minute charges-àla local and long distance phone service-even though the commission has given no indication it intends to push for such fees. The FCC has said it may consider taxing Internet telephone service, but that issue has not been vetted by either Congress or the FCC.
The "emergency" vote was held in response to a year-old Internet hoax in which a fabricated congressman named Tony Schnell sponsored bill HR-602P. According to that bogus piece of legislation (numbered unlike any other bill before or since), the government would charge users 5 cents for every e-mail sent and then deposit that money with the U.S. Postal Service.
Reports say House leadership pushed for quick action on the bill because Republicans want to pass a stack of Internet legislation in this election year.