Sen. Hutchison kills net neutrality

On Wednesday, the Stevens telecom bill moved out of committee and on to the full U.S. Senate. There is much not to like about this bill, from allowing build-out discrimination to mandating copy-protection technology. The most discussed, most controversial aspect, by far, is net neutrality protections.

The current Internet is content and provider neutral. The large providers like AT&T have indicated a desire to move to a tiered access model, which allows them to "double dip": charging both ends of the connection for the same content. Not to get all chicken little about it, but tiered access really does mean the end of the Internet as we know it.

Sen. Olympia Snow offered an amendment to the legislation to protect net neutrality. The amendment failed on an 11-11 tie vote.

This is a particularly sad day for Texans, because Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison sat on this committee. Her vote could have assured an open and neutral Internet. Instead, she voted the telco position to permit tiered access.

Here is another Texas take on the issue.

The good news is that the telco-funded initiative may be faltering. They won by a landslide in the House. This week, their margin was cut to a whisker. Sen. Ron Wyden has threatened to put a hold on the telecom legislation over this issue. So there is increasing hope the big telco grab can be stopped.