Democrats’ net neutrality bill would fully restore Obama-era FCC rules

Donna Miller
March 8, 2019

"The free and open Internet is a pillar of our democracy", said Pelosi in a prepared statement. Ed Markey of MA; companion legislation was introduced in the House by Rep. Ed Doyle of Pennsylvania.

"People understand that their ISPs have far too much control over their connection to the Internet and the services they care about", Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) said. "People in MI depend on reliable, high-speed internet to run their businesses, get an education, and succeed in their daily lives".

Markey tweeted a copy of the act, what he called "three pages that will restore net neutrality".

"It is an honor to join Democrats from both sides of the Capitol to introduce this strong legislation, which honors the will of the millions of Americans speaking out to demand an end to the Trump assault on net neutrality", said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The FCC's 2017 vote reversed a 2015 decision to reclassify broadband as a telecom service rather than an information service, or "Title II" in D.C. speak for its placement in the Communications Act.

Net neutrality backers argue that clear rules are needed to prevent internet service providers from blocking or throttling services or websites for competitive reasons. Democrats say they expect the House will vote on the bill in the next few months.

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A USA federal appeals court last month held lengthy oral arguments in a legal challenge to the FCC's decision. President Trump would also have his veto at the ready.

Democrats unveiled legislation on Wednesday to reinstitute net neutrality rules that were scrapped in 2017 by the Trump administration.

Critics of net neutrality counter that the rules could stifle investment and innovation, and claim the internet is not designed for utility-style regulation from the 1930s. This time, Democrats had to file a regular bill that must go through the normal committee process, which in the Senate is still controlled by the Republican majority.

"Rarely, if ever, has such a short bill raised so many obvious legal problems", Szoka said, noting that the Congressional Review Act - the authority on which the Save the Internet Act is based - allows Congress to strike down rules issued by regulatory agencies like the FCC, but not the orders by which an agency interprets provisions of a statute. You decide what you want to see and use, without ISPs stacking the deck in a way that benefits them. A Senate version of the bill will have a tougher time because Republicans are in the majority. But with Republicans in control of the Senate, the legislation could be dead-on-arrival there unless the two parties agree to negotiate a compromise. "This is a simple up or down vote on the future of the internet and our most basic rights in the digital age", Evan Greer, the deputy director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement.

By classifying ISPs as "common carriers", the FCC can enforce net neutrality rules, if and when they exist.

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