US: Dems propose net neutrality law

Democratic policymakers announced Tuesday proposed legislation that would require the Federal Communications Commission to ban so-called fast lanes on the Internet, a rule that would enforce net neutrality in the wake of highly-criticized FCC regulations.

Senate Judiciary Committee head Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) spearheaded the bill, titled the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act, that would ensure Internet service providers do not offer fast lanes to content providers, should would speed up delivery of certain content at the expense of others.

The bill follows weeks of controversy over the FCC’s latest rule proposals, which would essentially allow content providers to pay ISPs for faster content delivery. Critics say the regulations go against net neutrality and are detrimental to the online content streaming industry, and are likely to raise prices for consumers. The FCC, which has received hundreds of thousands of public comments regarding its latest proposals, is still considering whether to move forward with the rules. Two earlier versions of the regulations, which banned the ability to pay ISPs for faster service, were struck down in court.

Now, Democrats are looking to require that the FCC ensures companies do not pay extra fees to ISPs for priority content delivery.

”Americans are speaking loud and clear,” Leahy said. “They want an Internet that is a platform for free expression and innovation, where the best ideas and services can reach consumers based on merit rather than based on a financial relationship with a broadband provider.”

But the bill’s power has its limits, reports say. The legislation proposes that the FCC utilize its existing power to ensure net neutrality, and does not give the communications regulator any extra powers. The FCC is examining whether it has the legal authority to ban Internet traffic discrimination in the first place, reports say.

The bill would have the FCC review problematic financial agreements between content providers and ISPs on a case-by-case basis.

Leahy is reportedly set to hold a hearing in Vermont to discuss net neutrality later this year.

Full content: Washington Post

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