Net Neutrality Suffers Narrow Defeat

Net neutrality was dealt a bitter defeat late Wednesday, after a Senate committee rejected a Democratic amendment to add statutes to communications legislation by a 11-to-11 tie. The effort would have ensured that all traffic would be handled equally, say supporters.

It is now unclear if net neutrality will be able to recover, as efforts have suffered defeats in both houses of Congress. While Democrats and Internet companies say not including the rules could create a "two-tier Internet," Republicans have sided with the telecommunications industry saying the laws are needless regulation.

Much of the language from the amendment was borrowed from a full bill proposed in May. Under the statutes, it would be illegal to charge a company for priority access to its network, or attempt to squeeze out competitors by giving its traffic priority access.

Supporters of the effort lamented the amendment's defeat. An unlikely coalition of MoveOn.org, a liberal activist group, and the Christian Coalition said however that it felt the effort was gaining momentum.

"The little guy has seized the momentum in this fight to preserve Internet freedom," said Eli Pariser, Executive Director of MoveOn.org Civic Action. "Millions of Internet users are fighting back together to preserve Net Neutrality, and we're holding politicians accountable on this issue."

Another effort to pass a broader net neutrality amendment failed on a 12-10 vote. However, supporters say the fight is not over, now that the bill moves on to the Senate for a floor vote.

Amendments are likely to be brought to the floor during debate, and Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden said he would attempt to prevent a vote on the bill due to its lack of net neutrality regulations.

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