The U.S. Senate has voted against a Republican measure that would have overturned net neutrality rules passed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission last December.
Senators on Thursday voted 52-46, largely along party lines, against the resolution of disapproval. The vote effectively kills Republican efforts to overturn the FCC rules in Congress, although Verizon Communications has filed a court challenge to the regulations.
The FCC's net neutrality rules would prohibit wired broadband providers from selectively slowing or blocking Web content and applications. The rules are unnecessary regulation of the Internet and a power grab by the FCC of congressional authority, argued Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican and sponsor of the resolution.
"The FCC has essentially granted itself power over all forms of communications, including the Internet," Hutchison said Thursday on the Senate floor.
Opponents of the bill argued the rules are needed to protect Internet users and startups against discriminatory practices by a shrinking group of broadband providers. "Net neutrality is the free speech issue of our time," said Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, in debate earlier this week.
Republican concerns that the rules would limit investment in the Internet seem unfounded, with 2011 shaping up to be the biggest year for technology initial public offerings in a decade, said Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a similar measure to strike down the net neutrality rules in April.
This week, President Barack Obama promised to veto the resolution if it passed.
[Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.]