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Top Rep: AT&T Can Limit Net Bandwidth

AT&T, Verizon and the rest of the Big Telcos can rejoice: Their favorite Congressman, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, just squashed a provision in a law that would have outlawed telcos from limiting bandwidth to Web sites unless those sites pay up. Telcos got everything they need in order to practice legalized extortion. reports that Barton, head of the committee that handles telecommunications legislation, released the text of a new law governing telecom -- and that he cut out the guts of the bill.

Before Barton took the knife to it, the law said that broadband providers "may not block, or unreasonably impair or interfere with" Internet access.

But Barton killed that language. Instead, the bill now lets the FCC decide what to do about "network neutrality" -- and as I've written in a previous blog, FCC boss Martin will let AT&T and others do what they want. (For the full bill, click here.)

Web sites are already protesting. eBay, for example, wrote to, "eBay believes that Congress should stand up on behalf of Internet users and small businesses so that they can continue to have unfettered access to all content, applications and services that they wish to use now or in the future."

And Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, who has proposed legislation guaranteeing network neutrality, took aim at the bill as well, saying, "This legislation begins the construction of a multilayered, toll-strewn information superhighway that is out of sync with what has made the Internet work: access for all."

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