Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and some prominent Senate Republicans have introduced a bill, the Restoring Internet Freedom Act, that would nullify the FCC's 2015 Open Internet order and prevent the FCC from issuing similar rules in the future.
If that sounds familiar, it's because it would mirror the Congressional Review Act resolutions Republicans have been using to roll back regs adopted late in the Obama era. The Open Internet order is too old to be rolled back using the CRA.
Co-sponsors of the bill are Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), and James Inhofe (R-Okla.).
FCC chairman Ajit Pai plans a vote May 18 on his own effort to roll back Title II classification of ISPs but has also signaled he would welcome a congressional effort to clarify the issue.
Some leading Democrats have said they doubt Republicans will come to the table with a bill offering sufficient substantive protections, and a bill simply nullifying the rules and preventing similar ones is highly unlikely to garner support from any Dems in the Senate.
“Few areas of our economy have been as dynamic and innovative as the internet,” Lee said in introducing the bill. “This is largely because the federal government has taken a hands-off approach that has allowed permissionless innovation to deliver unthinkable technological advances in such a short amount of time. But now this engine of growth is threatened by the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 Open Internet Order…"
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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.