State Laws/Franchising

Boucher Favors ‘Net Neutrality’ Law

8/08/2005 7:47 AM Eastern

Congress needs to pass a law that punishes cable companies nabbed for interfering with lawful commercial activity on their high-speed Internet-access networks, Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) said in a statement Monday, reviving his support for “Net Neutrality” rules.

"The absence of a binding statute codifying the principles of Net Neutrality leaves a significant gap in our regulatory structure that will undoubtedly be exploited again by companies seeking to gain an inappropriate competitive advantage," said Boucher, an influential member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, where a Net Neutrality bill would likely get its start in the House.

Boucher’s comments came just three days after the Federal Communications Commission embraced Net Neutrality in a nonbinding set of principles, which included the right of consumers to access any lawful content on the Web and to attach devices that do no harm to the network.

The FCC’s failure to adopt enforceable rules should motivate Congress to enact Net Neutrality while considering modifications to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Boucher said.

“The next step must be taken by the Congress in codifying the Net Neutrality principles and bestowing on the FCC the clear authority to enforce the principles," he added.

Cable companies have rejected the need for legislation, saying that it would be unnecessary and potential consumer outrage would provide the incentive to keep networks wide open.

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