RealTime IT News

House GOP Kicks Tech on Net Neutrality

WASHINGTON -- If the House Republicans' latest stab at telecom reform is any indication, net neutrality is dead.

Of course, it may never have been alive since the telephone and cable companies told Congress it was never an issue, a solution in search of a problem.

Nevertheless, House Republicans gave at least lip service to net neutrality, tossing it to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) if there are any disputes over the issue, but not before de-fanging the FCC of any power to enforce net neutrality.

That, apparently, was still not good enough for the cable industry.

"While recognizing that the House bill has a net neutrality provision narrowly tailored to the FCC policy statement issued in 2005, we continue to believe that the better course is for the government to resist injecting itself into a thriving, dynamic market where investment and innovation are flourishing," Kyle McSlarrow, president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, said in a statement.

Big Tech Objects: Having been ignored by the House Energy and Commerce Committee over net neutrality, eBay, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google rushed a letter to the committee complaining that the proposed legislation, "would allow for such a fundamental change in the paradigm of the Internet that it would frustrate the reasonable expectations of the tens of millions of Americans who go online."

The companies said the bill falls "well short of what is needed to ensure that consumers and content providers can rely on the Internet as an engine of growth and innovation."

Big Tech and consumer and advocacy groups have been singing this song for more than a year now. Apparently, few in Congress are listening.

Just What Washington Needs: There's a new tech think tank in town -- the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), co-chaired by former House members Jennifer Dunn of Washington and Calvin Dooley of California.

Dooley said the ITIF "will fill a gap in the tech policy debate. With so many important technology issues being debated at the state and federal level, there is a real need for an independent and thoughtful voice. Our goal is to approach technology policy debates with reasoned and expert analysis that supports long-term innovation."

Perhaps Dunn and Dooley can get cranking on net neutrality.

"Could have and should have done a better job." ... No Kidding: After only three days and six postings, conservative Washington Post blogger, Ben Domenech, has resigned amid allegations of plagiarism. Fellow bloggers quickly discovered Domenech, 24, had lifted significant portions of his work from others.

Post officials admitted they "could have and should have" done a better job vetting for the choice spot.

Sued? Unhappy? www.aclu.org: Exodus International, a Christian group promoting heterosexuality, has dropped its complaints against a blogger who parodied the group's billboards.

The Exodus billboard states: "Gay? Unhappy? www.exodus.to."

Blogger Justin Watt's take: "Straight? Unhappy? www.gay.com."

Exodus originally complained that Watt infringed on its copyright and Watt, a North Carolina Web developer, turned to the American Civil Liberties Union. Exodus dropped the matter.

FTC Says Let the Online Wine Flow: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is throwing its weight behind an Ohio proposal to allow the direct shipment of wine from online vintners to Ohio consumers from either inside or outside the state.

The bill is designed to bring Ohio laws into compliance with last year's Supreme Court decision that states cannot prohibit their citizens from buying wine from either in-state or out-of-state Web sites.

"Consumers benefit from the increased competition that direct shipping provides," Maureen Ohlhausen, director of the FTC's Office of Policy Planning, said in a statement. "This bill would give Ohio wine consumers greater choices and lower prices."

(Roy Mark is the Washington Editor of internetnews.com)