Thune/Upton Working On Net Neutrality Bill

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairs of the Senate Commerce Committee and House Energy & Commerce Committee, respectively, say they are working on legislation that would protect against online discrimination and blocking and even paid prioritization without reclassifying Internet access under Title II.

Cable operators have argued they can live with some form of all of those rules, but not under Title II common carrier regs they say could be disastrous for innovation and investment. The White House is backing Title II and does not buy those arguments, according to an official who spoke to reporters Tuesday about the President's high-speed broadband initiatives.

"We need unambiguous rules of the road that protect Internet users and can help spur job creation and economic growth," they wrote. "The rules we propose would prohibit blocking and throttling (the selective slowing of data), and also ensure that Internet service providers could not charge a premium to prioritize content delivery."

That still leaves a chance for user-directed prioritization, which is one option for paid prioritization offered up one ISP.

But they ague that using Title II, which they brand Roosevelt-era utility regs, could result in billions in higher fees, be applied to mobile broadband, which faces unique network management challenges, and would almost certainly "perpetuate years of litigation and even more uncertainty for consumers and job creators."

In a co-bylined piece for Reuters, Thune (pictured) and Upton said they were working with both sides of the aisle on compromise rules, but any Democrats signing on would have to go against the President, who has said Title II is the way to go.

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.