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Net Neutrality Bill Introduced in US Congress

Lawmakers are looking to revive net neutrality, introducing a bill that would make it law rather than relying on a US agency's regulatory authority....
Net Neutrality Bill Introduced in US Congress
Written by Matt Milano
  • Lawmakers are looking to revive net neutrality, introducing a bill that would make it law rather than relying on a US agency’s regulatory authority.

    Net neutrality prohibits internet service providers from favoring their own services or creating fast lanes and charging companies for using them. The initial net neutrality rules were struck down by the Federal Communications Commission under Chairman Ajit Pai, despite broad support within the tech industry.

    Senators Edward J. Markey and Ron Wyden, and Representative Doris Matsui have brought the new bill before Congress in an effort ensure net neutrality remains the law of the land and cannot easily be overturned by the whims of FCC personnel.

    “The Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act reflects the undeniable fact that today, broadband is not a luxury. It is essential. That means the potential harms that internet users face without strong net neutrality protections a without the FCC able to exercise its proper authority are more sweeping than ever,” said Senator Markey. “My legislation would reverse the damaging approach adopted by the Trump FCC, which left broadband access unregulated and consumers unprotected. It would give the FCC the tools it needs to protect the free and open internet, creating a just broadband future for everyone in our country. I thank my partners for their support for this critical legislation.”

    Opponents say the measure is unnecessary and point to the fact that net neutrality has not existed during the time the internet was created and became such an integral part of modern life.

    Read more: The Case for Net Neutrality: AT&T Favoring HBO Max Over Netflix

    Proponents of net neutrality say the measure is necessary to keep the internet free and open, especially for smaller up-and-coming companies. They argue that the makeup of the internet, and today’s internet-based companies, is far different than it was in the early days, and without net neutrality, today’s startups won’t have the same opportunities as past companies.

    For example, if a company like AT&T or Comcast — companies that control access to the internet for millions and have their own media platforms — can charge more for competitors to provide services across their networks, smaller companies would be at a major disadvantage.

    “For anyone who wants more innovation, more voices and less corporate control of the internet, net neutrality is an absolute no-brainer,” said Senator Wyden. “I wrote the first Senate net neutrality bill to protect the open internet, where bits are bits and no one has to pay extra for digital toll roads just to learn, shop or get health care online. Oregon and other states have stepped up in the wake of the Trump Administration’s damaging actions. Now I’m proud to partner with Senator Markey and Rep. Matsui to restore net neutrality across the country and prevent big cable from gouging consumers and small businesses.”

    “The 21st century economy relies on a free and open internet – providing innovators and consumers with access to vital services and information,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “Trump-era deregulation has left the internet landscape without comprehensive consumer protections, allowing discriminatory practices that leave everyday Americans facing the consequences. For the online ecosystem to remain a dynamic engine of innovation, we need clear rules of the road that prevent internet service providers from blocking, slowing and prioritizing web traffic. This bill will give the FCC the power to adapt to the ever-changing marketplace, defend equitable access and promote free expression and innovation online.”

    It’s unclear if there is enough support in either branch of Congress to pass the law before the mid-term elections.

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