Andy Oram Reports
WYDEN VOWS SENATE FILIBUSTER IN FIGHT FOR NETWORK NEUTRALITY
by Andy Oram
American Reporter Correspondent
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 29, 2006 -- Network neutrality hangs precariously in the balance on the Congressional agenda. It has already been rejected by the House, and yesterday, the Senate Commerce Committee approved a telecommunications bill by Republican chairman Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska without including network neutrality language.
Today, however, Sen. Ron Wyden of Orgeon, a Democrat who has been a leader on Internet issues for more than a decade, threatened a filibuster to promote the inclusion of a network neutrality clause.
Andrew Blotky, a spokesman for Wyden's office in Washington, told the American Reporter "Sen. Wyden announced yesterday that he would attempt to block the legislation" unless clear language prevents discrimination in Internet access.
"The bill makes a number of major changes in the country's telecommunications law but there is one provision that is nothing more than a license to discriminate. Without a clear policy preserving the neutrality of the Internet and without tough sanctions against those who would discriminate, the Internet will be forever changed for the worse," Wyden told the Senate yesterday immediately after the Senate Commerce Committee vote.
Now, though, the whole question may be moot because the Stevens bill may well not pass.
It's a tribute to the public concern over free speech and respect for Internet consensus norms that the idea of network neutrality got as much of a hearing as it did.
As the day moves on, it seems unlikely that network neutrality will actually become law, given the lobbying strength of the telephone companies, the honest and widespread doubts about legislation in the technical community, and the difficulty of drawing up regulation for a fast-moving industry than can have many unforeseen consequences.
Editor's Note: American Reporter Webmaster Andy Oram is a member of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and a senior editor at O'Reilly Media.