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FCC net neutrality rules live on, after close Senate vote

In a party-line vote of 52-46, Senate Democrats successfully blocked a Republican-led effort to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality regulations, which are set to go into effect later this month.

The attempt to block the implementation of the FCC’s net neutrality rules was pushed forward by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), who, along with her fellow Republicans, argues that greater federal regulations will stifle business growth and innovation online.

“Over the past 20 years, the Internet has grown and flourished without burdensome regulations from Washington,” said Sen. Hutchinson in a statement. “If we’re going to keep an open and free Internet and keep the jobs it spawns, we should reject the FCC regulation on net neutrality.”

Democrats, and other supporters of net neutrality principles, argue that exactly the opposite is true: that net neutrality regulations will help keep the Internet as open as it currently is, meaning anyone can start a website without worrying the telecommunication companies will be able to give preference to websites they own, or ones owned by partner companies.

“Net neutrality is not about a government takeover of the Internet, and it is not about changing anything,” said Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). “Net neutrality and the rules the FCC passed are about keeping the Internet the way it is today and the way it has always been.”

While most Internet companies support the net neutrality rules, telecommunication giants oppose them. And some, in the case of Verizon, have gone so far as to sue to have the rules overturned.

Some public and Internet advocacy groups who support the FCC’s net neutrality rules say that they do not go far enough, especially the regulations governing the wireless web, which give telecoms wide flexibility in how they regulate these connections. The FCC has said that it will update the mobile web rules if they are found to be inadequate.

[Pictured: FCC chairman Julius Genachowski]

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