A discussion draft of new Republican-helmed network neutrality legislation is being circulated on Capitol Hill and it would define paid prioritization, which would be disallowed, and the reasonable network management and specialized services that would be allowable.
While the debate has been over using Sec. 706 authority or Title II authority, the bill in essence says neither works and addes its own section. It also responds to the D.C. Court of Apeals decision in the Verizon case by saying that Sec. 706 is not a broad grant of authority.
As advertised by its Republican co-sponsors earlier in the week, it is appears meant to achieve most of the aims of the FCC's former rules--no blocking, unreasonable discrimination--plus guard against paid prioritization, but doing so while clarifying that Internet access is an information service--as the FCC has been treating it--rather than a telecom service subject to Title II.
Here is the new section:
‘‘SEC. 13. INTERNET OPENNESS.
8 ‘‘(a) OBLIGATIONS OF BROADBAND INTERNET AC9
CESS SERVICE PROVIDERS.—A person engaged in the pro vision of broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged—12 ‘‘(1) may not block lawful content, applications, or services, subject to reasonable network manage ment; may not prohibit the use of non-harmful 16 devices, subject to reasonable network management; may not throttle lawful traffic by selectively slowing, speeding, degrading, or enhancing Internet traffic based on source, destination, or content, subject to reasonable network management; may not engage in paid prioritization; and shall publicly disclose accurate and relevant information in plain language regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding use of such services and for content, application, service, and device providers to develop, market, and maintain Internet offerings, except that a provider is not required to publicly disclose competitively sensitive information or information that could compromise network security or undermine the efficacy of reasonable network management practices."
The bill would allow for specialized services, defined as "services other than broadband Internet access service that are offered over the same network as, and that may share network capacity with, broadband Internet access service.’’
It also clarifies for the FCC what a reasonable network management practice is, defining it as one "appropriate and tailored to achieving a legitimate network management purpose, taking into account the particular network architecture and any technology and operational limitations of the broadband Internet access service provider."
The paid prioritization the bill would prohibit is defined as "the speeding up or slowing 6 down of some Internet traffic in relation to other 7 Internet traffic over the consumer’s broadband 8 Internet access service by prioritizing or 9 deprioritizing packets based on compensation or lack 10 thereof by the sender to the broadband Internet access service provider."
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.
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