Today, Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), along with Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and other co-sponsors, introduced a bill to reinstate net neutrality and the Federal Communications Commission’s authority over broadband service. The “Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act” would codify broadband as a “Title II” communications service, enabling the FCC to regulate it as such.
The bill effectively reverses the unprecedented abdication of authority over broadband that FCC Chairman Pai instigated in the agency’s 2017 repeal of its 2015 Open Internet Order that established the net neutrality rules under Chairman Tom Wheeler. Those rules prevented broadband providers from blocking websites, throttling web traffic, or creating “fast lanes” only for those able to pay for prioritization. This bill will not only restore these “net neutrality” protections, but also prevent a future-FCC from backtracking on other broadband consumer protections – fundamental in an increasingly online world. Public Knowledge urges Congress to swiftly pass this bill.
The following can be attributed to Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel Public Knowledge:
“For over two decades, the FCC has worked steadfastly to protect consumers’ access to a free and open internet. Before Chairman Pai’s repeal of the agency’s popular net neutrality rules, both Democratic and Republican Commissions maintained authority over broadband. It was only during the Trump administration that the FCC, for the first time, disavowed any authority to fulfill its congressional mandate to ensure all Americans have access to communications services. We’re thrilled that Senators Markey and Wyden and Representative Matsui are taking action to rectify this colossal mistake.
“Net Neutrality regulations are critical to our connected lives. These regulations ensure that consumers can access whatever website they want, without their broadband provider blocking them or slowing their connection. These rules also keep prices down by preventing providers from preferencing their own websites and services over competitors, and they enable smaller businesses to compete in the marketplace.
“This legislation, however, will do more than just protect consumers’ use of the internet. By reinstating the FCC as the broadband regulator, it will enable the Commission to champion multiple consumer protections. For example, it will enable the Commission to make sure our networks work during power outages by requiring broadband providers to have backup generators for cell phone towers. It also empowers the FCC to consider how best to protect consumers to ensure they have access to equal or better broadband as providers decommission older technologies. Absent oversight, internet service providers will continue to serve their interests and not the public interest. We need to have a qualified agency back on the beat in order to ensure that people come first.”
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