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House Judiciary passes Net neutrality bill

The House Judiciary Committee today passed the Net neutrality bill proposed by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) by a 20-13 vote. The action represents the first legislative victory for the Net neutrality forces, which are pushing Congress to enact legislation that would prevent service providers from developing premium tiers of Internet content delivery with higher prices.

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Sensenbrenner introduced his measure with bipartisan support after the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a telecom reform that did not include strong Net neutrality provisions. The debate is now expected to move to the floor of the House. The Senate is considering its own telecom reform legislation.

The Sensenbrenner bill is unique in using federal anti-trust provisions to prevent service providers from discriminating against content or applications providers, as opposed to asking the Federal Communications Commission to handle enforcement.

The measure passed with the support of six Republicans and 14 Democrats. The majority of Republicans on the committee made up the opposition.

“While we are disappointed that the Judiciary Committee chose to move toward regulating the Internet, we are pleased that the majority of the majority recognized that this legislation would deter investment in our nation’s broadband infrastructure,” said Tim McKone, AT&T executive vice president federal relations, in a prepared statement. “We are optimistic that the majority in Congress will see this legislation as an attempt to solve a problem that does not exist, and will instead focus on bringing choice to consumers by passing video choice legislation.”

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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