As promised, Congressional Democrats are staging a last-gasp effort to restore the Obama-era doctrine of “net neutrality.”
Forty Senators have co-sponsor a bill introduced in December by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, to remove recently enacted rules by the Federal Communications Commission that ended.
If approved in both the House and Senate, and signed by the President, longshot even with the recent support of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Markey’s bill would use the Congressional Review Act to turn back the clock to Obama Administration standards.
On Dec. 14, the Federal Communications Commission’s commissioners voted 3-2 to repeal net neutrality, capping off months of heated debate.
In 2015, the FCC adopted the Open Internet Order which reclassified broadband as a telecommunication service and prohibited internet service providers from setting up internet fast and slow lanes, ensuring all online traffic is treated the same. The D.C. Circuit Court upheld the rules in 2016, but the FCC started efforts to roll back these protections in spring of this year.
According to an announcement following the vote: “The FCC voted to restore the longstanding, bipartisan light-touch regulatory framework that has fostered rapid Internet growth, openness, and freedom for nearly 20 years … the FCC is returning to the traditional light-touch framework that was in place until 2015.”
The FCC voted to:
Restore the classification of broadband Internet access service as an “information service” under Title I of the Communications Act—the classification affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2005.
Reinstate the classification of mobile broadband Internet access service as a private mobile service.
Opine that the regulatory uncertainty created by utility-style Title II regulation has reduced Internet service provider investment in networks, as well as hampered innovation, particularly among small ISPs serving rural consumers.
Require that ISPs disclose information about their practices to consumers, entrepreneurs, and the Commission, including any blocking, throttling, paid prioritization, or affiliated prioritization.
Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he will lead a multistate lawsuit to stop the rollback of net neutrality.
“The FCC just gave Big Telecom an early Christmas present, by giving Internet service providers yet another way to put corporate profits over consumers,” he said. “The rollback will give ISPs new ways to control what we see, what we do, and what we say online. That’s a threat to the free exchange of ideas that’s made the Internet a valuable asset in our democratic process.”