Democratic Leaders Introduce Net Neutrality Legislation

 

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced S. 1981, “The Open Internet Preservation Act”, with House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) introducing companion legislation H.R. 3982, to protect consumers and innovation online. Last month, the D.C. Circuit struck down the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Open Internet rules preventing broadband providers from blocking or discriminating against content online. The bill would restore these rules until the FCC takes new, final action in the Open Internet proceeding. 

Original co-sponsors of the bills are: Sens. Markey, Richard Blumenthal, Al Franken, Tom Udall, Ron Wyden, and Jeff Merkley; and Reps. Waxman, Eshoo, Frank Pallone, Jr., Doris Matsui, Mike Doyle, Zoe Lofgren, Jan Schakowsky, Michael E. Capuano, and Suzan DelBene.

 

“The open nature of the Internet has made it the most successful commercial and communications medium in history,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and author of the first net neutrality bill introduced in Congress. “The Internet’s vitality and openness drives competition, innovation and job creation and we need to ensure it remains a level playing field for consumers and innovators in the wake of the D.C. Circuit Court decision. This bill ensures consumers are protected until the FCC uses its clear authority, as recognized by the court, to put in place replacement rules. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this important legislation forward.”  

“Keeping the Internet free from gatekeeper control is essential to ensuring consumers have access to the content, websites and services of their choice,” said Senator Blumenthal, member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “Until the DC Circuit Court’s recent decision, broadband companies had been barred from blocking content they dislike or holding innovative new services hostage for higher and higher tolls. This bill would reinstate principles of choice and freedom on the Internet and protect consumers and entrepreneurs.”

“The Internet is an open marketplace where everyone can participate on equal footing,” said Senator Franken, Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. “And that’s the way it should be—the website of a Minnesota small business should load as quickly as the website of a large corporation. However, the FCC's rules for net neutrality were struck down last month. I immediately wrote to the FCC to press for swift action to preserve open and equal access to the Internet. This legislation is an important part of that effort.”

“The DC Circuit decision threatens network neutrality standards that preserve free speech, promote innovation, and help Internet entrepreneurs compete on a level playing field with established companies,” said Senator Udall, chair of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations subcommittee. “Our legislation would restore the open Internet rules gutted by the court order and protect the open Internet we enjoy today until the FCC is able to address the issue. I urge Congress to hold a vote on our bill as soon as possible. And ultimately, I encourage the FCC to use its existing authority to ensure that the Internet continues to be an open platform for all.”  

“We must keep the internet open and free,” said Senator Merkley, a member of the Appropriations Committee. “I am pleased to support this bill to reinstate net neutrality rules while the Federal Communications Commission goes back to the drawing board.”

“Last month’s court ruling was bad for consumers, innovation and a free and open Internet,” said Senator Wyden, chair of the subcommittee on Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness.  “It gives Internet providers a free hand to pick the winners and losers of the digital economy.  The FCC’s Open Internet Order established some important protections against this kind of discrimination. Without them, companies that can pay-to-play for fast lanes will have an advantage over innovators without such deep pockets. This bill puts those protections back in place long enough to allow the FCC to identify a new approach to preserving a level playing field for innovation and competition, consistent with the court’s guidance.” 

 

“The Internet is an engine of economic growth because it has always been an open platform for competition and innovation,” said Rep. Waxman. “Our bill very simply ensures that consumers can continue to access the content and applications of their choosing online.  The FCC can and must quickly exercise the authorities the D.C. Circuit recognized to reinstate the Open Internet rules.  Our bill makes clear that consumers and innovators will be protected in the interim.”

 

“With the recent D.C. Circuit appeals court ruling, the open Internet as we know it suffered a blow,” said Rep. Eshoo. “By striking down rules that prevented broadband providers from discriminating against or even blocking online content, the Court’s decision threatens the openness and freedom that has defined the success of the Internet.  Although the Court struck down the FCC’s ‘no-blocking’ and ‘nondiscrimination’ rules, it explicitly affirmed the agency’s authority to oversee broadband services in the United States. I’m introducing legislation today to reinstate the FCC’s open Internet rules until the Commission adopts replacement rules.  This bill ensures that consumers, not their Internet service provider, are in the driver’s seat when it comes to their online experience.  The free and open Internet has been a pillar of our country’s growing economy, unparalleled technological innovation, and even global social movements.  It is the backbone of our digital world, and I intend to keep it that way.”

 

The full text of the bill is available HERE.  A bill summary is available HERE