Democrats Hope to Reinstate Net Neutrality

/ Feb 3, 2014


Congressional Democrats are hoping to reinstate the “net neutrality” rules that were struck down by a DC Court of Appeals last month.

A few days after President Obama came out in support of “a free and open internet,” House and Senate Democrats have introduced the Open Internet Preservation Act, a bill that would allow the FCC to continue enforcing net neutrality until the the agency can pass new provisions that comply with the appellate court’s ruling.

Net neutrality provisions are designed to prevent broadband providers from discriminating against individual websites and services by charging them an extra fee for faster download speeds.

The DC Court of Appeals struck down net neutrality in January because it found that the FCC could not justify having the authority to implement them. The court based this decision on the grounds that the FCC wasn’t classifying internet providers as “common carriers” like phone services, which do have to deal with such FCC regulations. Instead, internet providers were seen as “information services.”.

That said, the court did leave the door open for the FCC to reinstate the rules, as long as it reclassified broadband providers as common carriers — which, to be fair, is easier said than done.

The Open Internet Preservation Act was introduced in the House by Rep. Henry Waxman and Anna Eshoo of California, with a companion bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts. It’s likely that the legislation doesn’t see the light of day outside of this initial burst of support, which includes 12 co-sponsors. The Republican-controlled House, which was largely supportive of last month’s ruling against net neutrality, isn’t likely to support the Open Internet Preservation Act.

For the FCC’s part, chairman Tom Wheeler has promised to take action, though it’s not exactly clear what his and the agency’s next steps are.

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