House Democrats on Wednesday will introduce a bill to reinstate the net neutrality rules repealed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in late 2017.
In a letter to Democratic colleagues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the bill, know as the “Save the Internet Act,” will be introduced on Wednesday morning at 11:15 am. Text of the bill is not currently available.
The bill will likely seek to reestablish broadband internet access as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act, a key designation the Republican-led FCC voted to abandon in late 2017. The change to Title II classification gave the FCC the authority in 2015 to protect online businesses and consumers against any unreasonable practices of broadband providers.
The 2015 order also outlined numerous practices that the Obama-era commission believed unreasonable. That included the ability of broadband providers to selectively block or throttle websites and services. It also banned systems of paid prioritization, in which ISPs are allowed to choose which services are the quickest to access for consumers, charging companies additional fees for the privilege.
In December 2017, the FCC’s three GOP commissioners, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, voted to repeal those protections in a party-line vote. The vote was, in essence, a decision by Republicans to diminish their own agency’s authority to protect consumers, while claiming that—despite evidence to the contrary—oversight was hindering industry innovation.
“The bill isn’t out yet, but we hope it will give a congressional stamp of approval to the FCC’s 2015 Net Neutrality rules and the whole Open Internet Order,” said Timothy Karr, senior director of strategy and communications at Free Press. “That’s crucial, because the legal framework already in Title II is the baseline for guaranteeing the full range of protections demanded by internet users, including overwhelming majorities of Democratic and Republican voters.”
The effort to pass the “Save the Internet Act” in the Senate is being led by Senator Ed Markey, his spokesperson said.
In late 2017, the Senate passed a resolution to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality repeal under the Congressional Review Act. But the House, then controlled by the GOP, did not take up the resolution in time.
The FCC repeal is also currently being challenged in the D.C. Circuit by dozens of petitioners, including the Mozilla Corporation, Public Knowledge, Free Press, the Open Technology Institute at New America, and 21 state attorneys general.
Update, 5:15pm: Added comment from Tim Karr of Free Press.