Blackburn Introduces Open Internet Preservation Act

Confirming an earlier report in B&C/Multihchannel News, Communications Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) Tuesday (Dec. 19) took the wraps off a draft of the Open Internet Preservation Act, which she tweeted would ensure a free and open "space" by providing "light-touch" regulation.

No blocking. No throttling. The Open Internet Preservation Act will ensure the internet is a free and open space. This legislation is simple, it provides light-touch regulation so companies can invest and innovate, and make sure our internet is up to 21st century standards.

— Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) December 19, 2017

The bill would prohibit blocking and throttling, but has plenty for Democrats not to like, including preemption of state net neutrality regs and allowing for paid prioritization.

House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) praised Blackburn for taking the lead on the legislation. “Now that the Federal Communications Commission has taken action to restore Title I, it’s up to Congress to codify a light-touch framework while providing certainty and bright-line protections for consumers," he said. "The bill introduced today kicks off this important conversation, and lays the groundwork for Congress to enact broadly bipartisan principles that will preserve the dynamic internet ecosystem that has driven so much growth and innovation over the last two decades. I hope our Democratic colleagues will rethink their public strategy to ‘litigate not legislate’ as we begin this serious legislative effort,” said Walden.

“TIA welcomes the introduction of legislation to affirm and strengthen the FCC’s recent net neutrality decision," said Cinnamon Rogers, Telecommunications Industry Association SVP of government affairs. "In addition to enshrining into law critical principles of internet openness that consumers demand and that TIA has long supported, it offers a potential end to the political ping pong of the past decade on this issue. The bill would provide critical regulatory certainty essential for the creation of high-paying manufacturing jobs, increased private sector investment and innovation to the benefit of consumers and businesses in every corner of America."

Net neutrality fan Public Knowledge was underwhelmed.

“Unfortunately, Representative Blackburn’s bill falls short of restoring the strong net neutrality protections in the 2015 Open Internet Order," said Chris Lewis, VP at Public Knowledge. "Like other inadequate legislative efforts in recent years by opponents to the 2015 rules, this bill is not a substitute for what was lost and ignores the overwhelming public opinion supporting the recently-repealed rules. Americans should demand nothing short of a full restoration of net neutrality protections. Fortunately, Congress can achieve this by supporting the proposals to overturn the FCC net neutrality repeal with a CRA Resolution of Disapproval."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.