As expected, Democrats were not running to the other side of the aisle with olive branches at the introduction of the Republican network neutrality bill this week.
“When Chairmen [John] Thune (Senate Commerce Committee] and [Rep. Fred] Upton [House Energy & Commerce] released their draft net neutrality bill in 2015, I called it a legislative wolf in sheep’s clothing, offering select few safeguards while taking away the FCC’s future authority over broadband,” said Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.), one of the biggest backers of the Title II-based regs the FCC rolled back last week. “Congresswoman [Marsha] Blackburn’s bill is even worse [an observation mirrored by many House Dems, according to a Hill source]. This legislation doesn’t just rip authority away from the FCC to protect consumers, it goes further to undermine the very spirit of net neutrality by allowing broadband providers to establish internet fast and slow lanes. Rather than legislation that would permanently undermine the free and open internet, Congress should pass my Congressional Review Act resolution and restore the Open Internet Order.”
Markey is said to have 23 signatories on his effort to use the same congressional gambit Republicans used to nullify Obama-era regulations to deep six last week's net neutrality order, which reclassified ISPs as Title I information services not subject to common carrier rules and eliminated the rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.
The bill would prohibit blocking and throttling of online content--which the FCC's recent reg rollback would allow--but would allow paid prioritization, preempt state and local new neutrality regs, and limit FCC 'net regs, essentially 'clarifying' that the FCC's sec. 706 mandate to insure advanced telecom is deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion is not a general grant of authority to regulate the internet.
ISPs have already pledged not to block or throttle, pledges that the Federal Trade Commission could enforce, so the bill would move that enforcement back to the FCC.
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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