Democratic lawmakers introduce new net neutrality bill

Democratic lawmakers introduce new net neutrality bill

By TMN Interns   
March 6, 2019
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), joined by some of their fellow Democrats, announce the Save the Internet Act on Wednesday. The bill aims to restore the net neutrality regulations the FCC voted in 2017 to repeal. (Marco Torrez/TMN Intern)

By Marco Torrez

WASHINGTON — Democratic leaders have revealed a new attempt to push a net neutrality bill through Congress.

“With the Save the Internet Act, Democrats are honoring a variety of people and restoring the protections that do this, stop unjust discriminatory practices by ISPs (internet service providers) that try to throttle the public’s browsing speed, block your internet access and increase your cost,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a news conference on Wednesday.

She explained that with new bill, the Democratic Party is fighting to keep the internet fair and open for everyone. Net neutrality will enable everyone to use the internet freely without any unfair interference from a “big boy” broadband corporation, she said.

“We don’t let electric companies, also a monopoly, say you can charge this house one rate and the same house next door another rate,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “We need the same rules on the internet; it’s got to be open, free and fair.”

Schumer said people don’t want internet costs to increase or things to become unfair. He said that net neutrality also helps the economy by encouraging competition among online businesses. But if broadband corporations favor other “big boy” sites, then newer businesses will have a much harder time surviving and competing in their respective industry, he said.

This new bill emphasizes three major points that are considered the core of net neutrality: “no blocking, no throttling and no paid prioritization.” All three would effectively reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s ruling in December 2017 to do away with net neutrality. The FCC’s ruling, which took effect last June, reversed the net neutrality regulations that the Obama administration had enacted in 2015.

An FCC spokesperson issued a statement on Wednesday defending the agency’s repeal of the rules, calling it a success. “It has unleashed private investment, resulting in more fiber being deployed in 2018 than any year before and download speeds increasing by an astounding 36%. … The Internet in America today is free and vibrant, and the main thing it needs to be saved from is heavy-handed regulation from the 1930s.”

Last May, the Senate voted to reverse the ruling on net neutrality through a bipartisan vote of 52-47. However, the legislation was never introduced in the Republican-controlled House before the bill’s deadline. This time around, a Democratic-controlled House could mean a different outcome — if the Republican-controlled Senate can get bipartisan support for the bill.

Republicans against net neutrality have made it clear that they don’t support the bill, claiming that the rules limit and harm businesses throughout the nation. Those Republicans also disagree with Schumer’s premise that online businesses should be governed like a utility company.

But Democrats are optimistic that this time around, they can successfully reinstate the regulations.

“In a matter of weeks, we will act upon this” bill, Pelosi said.

If both chambers pass the bill, it could reach President Donald Trump’s desk this month.

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