Shocking Coincidence! Republicans, AT&T Unhappy With Proposed Network Neutrality Rules.
That was fast.
Just hours after Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, unveiled his open Internet proposal, a number of Republican senators stepped forward to oppose it. Arguing that Net Neutrality will “impede investment and innovation of new technologies,” Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R., Texas) proposed an amendment to an Interior Department appropriations bill that would bar the FCC from using federal funds to implement the proposal.
“I am deeply concerned by the direction the FCC appears to be heading,” Hutchison, the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, said in a statement. “Even during a severe downturn, America has experienced robust investment and innovation in network performance and online content and applications. For that innovation to continue, we must tread lightly when it comes to new regulations. Where there have been a handful of questionable actions in the past on the part of a few companies, the commission and the marketplace have responded swiftly.”
Joining her in proposing the amendment were Senators John Thune (R., S.D.), Sam Brownback (R., Kan.), David Vitter (R., La.), Jim DeMint (R., S.C.), and John Ensign (R., Nev.), who had this to say in a statement of his own:
“In this struggling economy, any industry that is able to thrive should be allowed to do so without meddlesome government interference that could stifle innovation. We must avoid burdensome government regulations that micromanage private businesses or that limit the ability of companies to provide what their customers want. The Internet has flourished in large part because of a lack of government interference; I see no need to change that now.”
Nor does AT&T (T), which–coincidentally, I’m sure–happens to be a top-20 donor not just for Ensign and Hutchison, but for the four other senators who would block Genachowski’s initiative as well. Said Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs: “AT&T would be very disappointed if [the FCC] has already drawn a conclusion to regulate wireless services despite the absence of any compelling evidence of problems or abuse that would warrant government intervention.”