McCain Introduces Bill to Prevent Net Neutrality Rules

Senator says keeping business free from "oppressive regulations" will help economy

Against a back drop of a flood of praise for the FCC's openness and transparency of the FCC's proposal Thursday to begin the process of codifying network neutrality rules, came Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), solidly against the proposal and ready to back that up with a bill.

In fact, even before the vote was taken at the FCC (three ayes, two partial dissents), the senator had introduced legislation to block the proposal. The bill's first order of business was to hold that: "The Federal Communications Commission shall not propose, promulgate, or issue any regulations regarding the Internet or IP-enabled services." It has a carve-out for national security and makes it clear it is only talking about any new rules the FCC would adopt, not any old ones that may apply.

McCain said the goal of the bill was to prevent "net neutrality" rules that would reign in the network management practices of all Internet service providers, including wireless phone companies.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski made it clear in announcing the proposal that there was a carve-out for reasonable network management, and that the FCC would consult engineers to get a handle on just what was and wasn't reasonable.

While McCain called the bill the Internet Freedom Act of 2009, the bill language lists its short title as the "Real Stimulus Act of 2009," suggesting the bill was more a way of making a point than of making legislation. "Keeping businesses free from oppressive regulations is the best stimulus for the current economy," said McCain of the bill.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) early on threatened to introduce a bill that would have blocked funding for net neutrality rules, but held off after discussions with FCC staffers.

No word on whether she will continue to hold off. A Republican staffer was checking on the status of the bill and Hutchison's reaction to the FCC proposal at press time.