Senator Proposes Net Neutrality Bill

    March 3, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Ron Wyden (D-Or) has introduced legislation to prevent telecoms and cable companies from developing a two-tiered network where fees would be charged to content providers to prioritize their Internet traffic.

Wyden’s ‘Internet Nondiscrimination Act’ attempts to derail the likes of AT&T, BellSouth, and Verizon from imposing additional fees on companies like Google and Yahoo in exchange for giving their traffic preferential treatment.

“Creating a two-tiered system could have a chilling effect on small mom and pop businesses that can’t afford the priority lane, leaving these smaller businesses no hope of competing against the Wal-Marts of the world,” Wyden said in a statement. “Neutrality in technology enables small businesses to thrive on the Internet, and allows folks to start small and dream big, and that’s what I want to protect with this legislation.”

The Act would not prevent networks from protecting their users from abusive Internet usage by spammers or other criminals. Wyden also noted the Act would not hinder these providers from responding to emergencies or court-ordered law enforcement requests.

One particular condition of Wyden’s bill promises a transparent system in which consumers, Internet content, and applications companies have access to the rates, terms, and conditions for Internet service.

Transparency is good, but it would be better if Wyden’s bill required a plain-English version of those items as well. Many of those terms require a particular level of technical savvy to understand them due to their frequent length and complexity.

Wyden also included a provision for filing complaints of violations of the Act with the FCC. The network provider would have to demonstrate it did not violate the law, and the FCC has to render a decision in 90 days from the filing date.

“It’s wrong to create an information superhighway that’s strewn with discriminatory hurdles,” said Wyden. “Today, I have introduced legislation to stop the powerful interests who control access to the Internet from picking winners and losers on the Internet. This bill is for consumers, innovators and small businesses – it’s all about equal access for everyone: the same access, the same content, for the same price.”


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.