Democrats unveil legislation to reinstate net neutrality rules

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality

"Nancy Pelosi becoming speaker and taking over the House of Representatives has breathed new life into the battle for an open internet", Washington Sen.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) looking on, speaks at a press conference at the Capitol Building on May 16, 2018 in Washington, DC.

In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission repealed the rule in a party-line decision, 3-2.

The Save The Internet Act of 2019 was unveiled today by Sen.

Many Americans wanted to keep the net neutrality protections. "We're talking about what the country stands for, and so when we talk about saving the internet, we're talking about saving the marketplace, we're talking about saving our democracy", the New Jersey Democrat said. "Whether it's slowing down Netflix, blocking access to innovative mobile services, or adopting anti-competitive zero-rating policies, the track record for ISPs on this issue is clear". Pai claimed the move was supposed to increase competition among Internet service providers (ISPs) throughout the US -despite Comcast plainly stating that FCC protections hadn't stifled its growth efforts.

The Obama administration established net neutrality regulations in 2015, which prevented internet service providers from throttling, blocking or prioritizing internet content, and redefined broadband service as a public utility. The bill is therefore almost identical to one that was approved by the US Senate in May 2018 but never voted upon by the House.

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Republicans argue that the approach taken by the House and Senate Democrats using the Communications Act, is too much of a blunt instrument.

The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, voted in May 2018 to reinstate the rules, but the House did not take up the issue before Congress adjourned a year ago. Congress members have now introduced a bill called the "Save the Internet Act of 2019", which would effectively re-instate Title II legislation. The now-Republican-controlled FCC axed them in December 2017 because, according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, they solved a problem that did not exist. The CRA allows Congress to simply overrule the actions of a federal agency within a certain window of time. Today, Democrats in both the Senate and House are announcing the Save The Internet Act, and we're going to send it to Donald Trump's desk. Even getting a simple majority will be tougher than past year because Republicans gained two seats in the Senate and now hold a 53-47 advantage.

"Saving the Internet has been a grass-roots effort if there ever was one", said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "We are on the right side of history".

While several Republicans have expressed support for a form of net neutrality legislation, some have accused previous bills of being partisan or insufficient. Republicans have pledged support for some type of net neutrality law, but not one as strong as the repealed FCC rules. Not only were there costs to complying with the regulations, critics say, but the way they were written left the door open to direct price regulation of Internet access. "If they should decide to start up a business, they want to be on an equal playing field with the big boys". This term's larger Senate Republican majority, and the likely need for 60 votes, makes the fight all the more hard in 2019.

While consumer advocates and providers of Web services welcomed the Democrats' legislation, free-market think tanks and broadband industry lobbyists that generally oppose regulation of ISPs are already fighting against it.

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