Posted November 14, 2008 4:51 pm by with 13 comments

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Senator Byron Dorgan, D-ND, tells Reuters that he plans to introduce a bill in January to enshrine Net Neutrality into law. This will come two years after a previously attempted Net Neutrality bill, introduced by . . . huh, Sen. Byron Dorgan. What a coincidence.

In the intervening two years, however, many regulatory rulings have come down on the issue of Net Neutrality. For example, back in April, the FCC insisted that they already have the authority to enforce Net Neutrality, and later ordered Comcast to stop impeding its users’ traffic. Dorgan, however, believes this is not enough:

Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, believes a law is essential to prevent telephone and cable companies from discriminating against Internet content, even though regulators have taken actions to enforce free Web principles, a top Dorgan aide said on Thursday.

As Comcast is fighting the FCC’s ruling in court, a federal law may be necessary. On the other hand, if a federal law is overturned by the Supreme Court, the only way to enshrine the principle of Net Neutrality into law is to amend the Constitution—not an easy task.

AT&T’s EVP for regulatory affairs, Jim Cicconi, however, says that the FCC’s authority is already sufficient:

The current (FCC) principles already deal with unreasonable discrimination.

Cicconi also pointed out that, barring that, basic market principles also work in favor of Net Neutrality:

The public would not pay for its Internet services if AT&T discriminated against content, he added. “We’d be shooting ourselves in the foot.”

What do you think? Between the FCC rulings and the basic market principles, is a federal Net Neutrality law really necessary?

  • OK if one major good thing can come from this Democratic ruled white house, house and senate is getting Net Neutrality into law.

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  • Thank god.

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  • PS3

    My personal view is that it is just another of those laws like copyright and DRM. We know they are there but we don’t really understand them and just go merrily on our way!

  • I love it when politicians talk about “preserving free markets” when there are no free markets to preserve! The truth is that in most localities tele-coms have complete monopolies over internet access. Which means that there is no free choice. No free choice, no ability for self market regulations. Honestly, I would love it if we didn’t need federal legislation for net neutrality, i would love it if markets where open and everybody got a free wireless netbook! But guess what? Its time to wake up and get real! If we truely want to presearve free market capitalism, then its time we take action and quit pretending that everything is peaches and cream!

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  • Sorry about that last comment/rant, I am not happy with my ISP at the moment, can you tell?

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  • I believe that legislation is necessary.

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  • Seem Obama’s played a big roll in getting this back on the map.

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  • This bill will supposedly make a lot of technologists happy …

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  • Good in principle but in practice it will no doubt be ignored

  • In general, the market is a far better way to regulate this kind of thing, but Joe Hall is right … where there’s an effective monopoly in any given town, legislation is required.

  • I feel that net freedom should be zealously enforced. Period.

  • Its time to wake up and get real!

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  • cat

    It loks good only on paper let’s take a look later, how it’s gonna work