House to Debate Save the Internet Act Tuesday

The House was preparing to begin debate Tuesday (April 9) on the Save the Internet Act, the Democrat-backed bill that would restore net neutrality regulations under Title II, including vetting a bunch of amendments.

The bill would restore Title II classification of internet access—wired and wireless—and rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization, plus a general conduct standard that would allow the FCC to regulate conduct not covered under those rules, but that it concluded impeded an open internet.

The House Rules Committee was working Monday night on that lineup of amendments--19 at last count (see below). The Republican amendments tracked with ones rejected in the full committee markup last week.

The Democratic amendments included ones affirming that ISPs can still block child porn or copyright infringing content, GAO reports on getting broadband to rural areas, the benefits of stand-alone broadband, and one on the accuracy of broadband maps, and how the FCC could better assess competition. Another would prevent the FCC from knowingly releasing inaccurate broadband availability data and to do its best to correct past inaccuracies prior to a report's release.

Related: Dems Seek FCC Explanation of Faulty Broadband Data

The FCC has conceded that a draft of its as-yet-unreleased broadband availability report included bad data that overstated broadband availability.

The mistake was caught in time to correct it for the final report, but not before FCC Chairman Ait Pai had touted the draft's findings. The error raised questions about the accuracy of those carrier-reported numbers in general.

If past is prologue, there will be a bunch of folks watching the floor proceedings Tuesday via the web, as well as on C-SPAN.

Some 300,00 watched the bill's subcommittee markup, and twice that many the full committee markup.

The vote could come late Tuesday--debate is expected to begin about midday--or could be pushed to Wednesday depending on whether a budget bill is ready for a Wednesday vote.

At press time, the following amendments had been submitted and were being vetted by the Rules Committee for germaneness. D indicates it was introduced by a Democrat, R by a Republican.

(1) (D). "Requires GAO to produce a report, within 1 year, reviewing the benefits to consumers of broadband internet access providers offering broadband internet access service on a standalone basis and what steps Congress can take to increase the availability of standalone broadband internet access service to consumers, particularly those living in rural areas.

(2) (R). "Provides that it is the sense of Congress that caller ID spoofing is unacceptable and that prohibitions against caller ID spoofing should be strengthened.

(3) (D) "Requires the GAO to produce a report about the ways in which the U.S. government can promote commercial broadband infrastructure build out, especially to rural areas and areas currently unserved by high-speed broadband access.

(4) (D) Requires the FCC to submit a report, within 1 year of enactment, to the Committees of Jurisdiction that describes all enforcement actions taken since enactment by the FCC with respect to persons engaged in the provision of broadband internet access service, including the amount of each fine imposed or settlement agreed to, the actions taken by the FCC to collect such fines and settlements, and the amounts collected for such fines and settlements.

(5) (D) "Requires the Federal Communications Commission to submit to Congress within 30 days a plan for how the Commission will evaluate and address problems with the collection on Form 477 of data regarding the deployment of broadband internet access service. Form 477 is used by the FCC to determine which providers are servicing which areas and it is the government’s main source of data used for identifying underserved areas of opportunity.

(6) (D) "Requires that within 1 year of enactment, the GAO shall produce a report examining the FCC’s efforts to assess competition in the wireline and wireless broadband internet access markets, and how the FCC can better assess competition, and what steps, if any, the FCC can take to better increase competition in the wireless and wireline broadband internet access markets.

(7) (R) "Prohibits, explicitly and statutorily, the Federal Communications Commission from regulating the rates charged for broadband internet service."

(8) (D). "Directs the Comptroller General of the United States to submit a report to Congress examining the importance of 2015 Open Internet Order to ethnic and racial minorities, socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, rural populations, individuals with disabilities, and the elderly.

(9) (R) "Says that H.R. 1644 will not apply to 5G.

(10) (D) "Directs the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission to engage tribal stakeholders and providers to ensure accessible and affordable broadband on tribal lands.

(11) (R). "Ensures that the FCC's Title II authority over 'telecommunication services' to raise fees, moderate content, and seize and control networks will be negated.

(12) (D) "Requires the GAO to determine the accuracy and granularity of broadband maps produced by the FCC, and to submit to Congress a report that identifies programs and actions that rely on these maps and that makes recommendations for how the FCC can produce more accurate maps.

(13) (R) "Directs GAO to initiate a study to examine the influence of all entities on the virtuous cycle of the internet ecosystem and whether such rules protect the access of consumers to a free and open internet."

(14) (R) "Requires the FCC to share the list of 700 rules that will be permanently forborne by the FCC should this bill become law.

(15) (R) "Creates an exemption from transparency requirements for internet service providers with 250,000 subscribers or less for five years. [the bill already contains the single amendment approved in the full committee, which creates a one-year exmption for ISPs with 100,000 or fewer subs].

(16) (D). "Finds that annual FCC reports on the state of broadband deployment are important to fostering further deployment and that Congress relies on the accuracy of these reports. Requires that 1) the FCC may not release such a report based on information it knows to be inaccurate and 2) the Commission use its best efforts to ensure all future reports are accurate and to correct past inaccuracies prior to the report’s release.

(17) (D) "Initiates a review of the challenges for Rural Broadband providers in serving hard-to-reach areas. This amendment identifies the challenges for rural broadband providers, specifically those designated to be serving “High Cost” areas by the Federal Communications Commission, to maintain, upgrade, and expand their networks in the evolving Internet Ecosystem.

(18) (D) "Affirms that ISPs can still block unlawful content, such as child pornography or copyright-infringing materials.

(19) (R) "Prioritizes federal funds under the Farm and Rural Development Act that are used to provide broadband access to areas that are unserved with no access, before they are used to upgrade areas with existing service." 

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.