US Congress debuts net neutrality replacement bill - Mobile World Live

US Congress debuts net neutrality replacement bill

20 DEC 2017

Less than a week after the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed its 2015 net neutrality rules, Republicans in Congress introduced legislation which would restore some of those protections.

The Open Internet Preservation Act would once again prohibit internet service providers from blocking and throttling internet traffic. However, unlike the scrapped FCC rules, the bill doesn’t include a ban on paid prioritisation.

A key element in the FCC’s repeal – reclassification of broadband internet services as a Title I information service, and associated shift in regulatory power to the Federal Trade Commission – would still happen under the proposed bill. But the action by Congress would codify these measures into law, meaning regulations wouldn’t be subject to change with each new administration as is currently the case with the FCC.

The bill would also remove the power of individual states to introduce local rules which could interfere with the federal policy, something which state governments had the power to do under the previous internet rules.

Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, who introduced the legislation, said in a Twitter post it was her “honour” to sign the bill: FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly in a statement praised what he called the bill’s “thoughtful approach”.

But open internet advocate Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said Blackburn’s measure wasn’t “fooling anyone” and called the bill a “poorly disguised slap in the face to internet users.”

“Blackburn’s bill would explicitly allow internet providers to demand new fees from small businesses and internet users, carving up the web into fast lanes and slow lanes. Changing the fundamental structure of the internet in this way would be devastating for innovation, creativity, and free expression online,” Greer stated.


Diana Goovaerts

Diana is Mobile World Live's US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana came to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine, digital-only...

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