FFTC: House Dems Seek Bipartisan Net Neutrality Bill

Net neutrality activists at Fight for the Future (FFTF) say they have gotten hold of a draft letter signed by almost four dozen Democratic House members calling for compromise network neutrality legislation, including forming a bipartisan caucus, as a pair of senators did), a conciliatory move FFTF strongly opposed.

They all voted for a bill, the Save the Internet Act, which would have restored the old net neutrality rules, which passed in the House. But that is going nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate, something the purported draft concedes.

Fight for the Future opposes any compromise on Title II-based rules that include a general conduct standard, both of which are nonstarters for Republicans. It slammed the letter, which it said was championed by Democrats friendly to telecoms and their lobbying dollars.

FFTF provided a copy of the letter language, saying it simply "parrots ISP lobbyist talking points":

"Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer and Whip Clyburn:

"The Internet is one of the greatest engines of economic growth in our nation’s history. It has fundamentally changed virtually every aspect of our lives — how we connect with friends and family, as well as how we get our news, information, and entertainment. For that reason, we, like you, strongly support net neutrality and the preservation of an Open Internet. We commend you, chairman Pallone, and Subcommittee chairman Doyle for your leadership in championing this issue and for successfully advancing the “Save the Internet Act” through the House.

"We, the undersigned, voted for this legislation because it represented an opportunity to resolve questions that courts have struggled with for decades. At the same time, we recognize that this legislation is unlikely to become law, or pass through the Senate, in its current form. If that proves true, consumers will be left without enforceable net neutrality protections while partisan conflict continues. We believe this result is unacceptable and unnecessary.

"In the spirit of passing bipartisan, bicameral legislation that can be signed into law, we are calling for the establishment of a bipartisan working group, like the Wicker-Sinema effort in the Senate. As the Senate begins its bipartisan negotiations on net neutrality legislation, the House must also begin a process of forging bipartisan consensus. Various models for legislation could achieve our goals of providing strong, enforceable net neutrality protections for consumers.

"We believe a bipartisan working group will allow us to work together to enact strong, enforceable protections that will ensure a truly free and open Internet for all. We hope that we can count on your support."

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.