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Sen. Kennedy Backs ISP-Favored Net Neutrality Legislative Approach

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) has introduced the Open Internet Preservation Act, a net neutrality bill along the lines of the legislative solution championed by ISPs.

The bill is the Senate companion to one introduced in the House by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Communications Subcommittee.

Kennedy had suggested he might support the Congressional Review Act resolution -- backed by Democrats and one Republican -- to roll back the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom order, which eliminated the prohibitions on blocking, throttling and paid prioritization, but the introduction of the bill suggests he has chosen a different route.

Related: Sen. Kennedy Pressed on Net Neutrality CRA

“Some cable companies and content providers aren’t going to be happy with this bill because it prohibits them from blocking and throttling web content," Kennedy said, though that does not square with what ISPs have been saying publicly about the issue.

"They won’t be able to micromanage your web surfing or punish you for downloading 50 movies each month," he said. "This bill strikes a compromise that benefits the consumer. If the Democrats are serious about this issue and finding a permanent solution, then they should come to the table and work with me and Rep. Blackburn on these bills. Does this bill resolve every issue in the net neutrality debate? No, it doesn’t. It's not a silver bullet. But it's a good start.”

Kennedy's bill would prohibit blocking and throttling access to web content, something ISPs have generally pledged not to do anyway and have supported enshrining in legislation. It would not prohibit paid prioritization, which ISPs argue can be pro-consumer, though they have suggested they could support finding legislative language to prevent the anticompetitive fast and slow lanes that net neutrality activists decry.

The bill would also prevent states from coming up with their own net neutrality legislation.

Net neutrality activists were suggesting the bill was another dud.

“Today, Kennedy has opted to introduce companion legislation to Rep. Blackburn’s horrible anti-net neutrality bill," said Mark Stanley, communications director for Demand Progress. "This legislation would be disastrous for net neutrality, opening the door for large internet providers to create fast and slow lanes online, which would destroy innovation and stifle free expression. Kennedy’s bill will be tirelessly opposed by all who support real net neutrality, and it should be rejected outright by all members of Congress, Republican and Democrat alike. We urge Senator Kennedy to drop this bill and support the CRA resolution to restore strong net neutrality protections.”