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Senate and House Leaders Introduce Net Neutrality Legislation

On Wednesday, March 6, Democratic leaders in the Senate and House introduced “Save the Internet” legislation that reverse the “Pai Rule”, which to some allowed restrictive behavior, including blocking and throttling of the internet. The legislation also empowers the FCC to look at potentially harmful practices of ISPs (practices that could be unjust or discriminatory).

The bill was introduced concurrently in the Senate and House, a rare bi-cameral action. In the Senate, Sen. Markey, D-OR, led the charge and was joined by 44 Senate Democrats, in the House, the bill was introduced by Congressman Doyle, D-PA.

For background, in 2015, after a fight to keep the internet free, former President Obama via the FCC enacted some of the strictest net neutrality laws to date, establishing the internet as a telecommunication service, keeping ISPs from having too much power over how it is monetized. For example, this would ensure that internet providers couldn’t intentionally slow down or speed up your internet speed on certain sites, or charge you more for using some sites over others.

In 2017, President Trump and the FCC made quick work of those rules, swiftly overturning and repealing those laws in a 3-2 vote on party lines. The 2017 rule does require that internet service providers divulge their actions in regard to paid fast lanes and blocked content.

Since 2017, the Democrats and a handful of Republicans have supported legislation to rescind the FCC 2017 action, however, those efforts have stalled in the Senate.

While the Save the Internet Act is most certainly assured to pass the House, the Senate remains a challenge. While there are at least three Republican senators who have a history of voting in favor of stronger net neutrality protections, it’s unclear how the 2020 election will impact those Republican Senators and their position on net neutrality.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will host a subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, March 12 on the legislation.

NASE has not taken a position on net neutrality to date.

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