Markey: Net Neutrality Bill Is Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) provided early warning of the difficulty Republicans will have in getting Democrats to sign on to their proposed network neutrality bill.

Not long after the Republican House/Senate draft started circulating, Markey weighed in publicly, calling it a "wolf in sheep's clothing."

The bill would not reclassify Internet access under Title II, for one thing, which Markey has been pushing.

But beyond that he said it would be a "giveaway" to big broadband companies that would hurt consumers and not do much to protect an open Internet besides.

The bill's Republican backers had advertised it, somewhat hopefully, as potentially bipartisan as well as bicameral, but if Markey was any indication, not so much.

“Democrats and Republicans both agree on the need for net neutrality protections, but this Republican proposal should be called the Big Broadband Baron Act. It is a legislative wolf in sheep’s clothing, offering select few safeguards while undermining basic consumer, privacy and accessibility protections. It would harm low-income, disabled, senior and rural consumers, and undermine competition in the telecommunications marketplace."

The bill would restrict the FCC's ability to use Sec. 706 of the Telecommunications Act to regulate in the name of broadband, instead coming up with specific grants of authority to deal with blocking and discrimination and paid prioritization and specialized services.

“This proposal would prevent the FCC from enacting the strongest net neutrality rules, promoting universal service, protecting privacy, ensuring accessibility, and encouraging municipal broadband networks. This is a wish list for the big broadband companies looking to protect their interests and avoid consumer protections," said Markey.

“Rather than pursuing this damaging legislative proposal, the FCC should use the clear authority granted them by Congress to vote on strong net neutrality rules in February and reclassify broadband under Title II. The future of the Internet as we know it depends on it.”     

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.