Congress may yet put the brakes on the rush to enshrine network neutrality into law. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, suggested that a provision mandating that carriers treat all Internet traffic equally may not make it into the final draft of a new telecom law. The New York Times reports that while Stevens says he supports the idea in principle, seems to be reconsidering after an afternoon of hearings where a number of Wall Street analysts expressed reservations whether the provision was necessary, or even desirable. In addition, Cisco Systems, the leading manufacturer of Internet routers, asked Congress not to impose the requirement. Stevens’ position contrasts with that of his counterpart in the House, Joe Barton (R, TX), who, as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, reported has agreed to a network neutrality provision as part of a rumored compromise on legislation that would create a national video franchise structure. Elsewhere, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), has introduced legislation to mandate network neutrality. Wyden, however, is not a member of Stevens’ committee. Meanwhile, in something of a surprise, the Washington Post this week editorialized against the network neutrality concept, hitting all the right reasons it is an ill-conceived idea.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.