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March 05, 2019

Net Neutrality Makes a Comeback: Dems to Unveil New Bill Tomorrow

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Ever since the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission scrapped Obama-era net neutrality rules in June of last year, after voting to end the rules in December of 2017, individual states and even the United States Senate—or at least Democrats in the Senate—have been pushing for ways to revive the regulations. Under net neutrality, giant internet service providers must provide equal access to online data pipes for all content providers. Getting rid of net neutrality changed all that, paving the way for the big ISPs to favor certain content—often their own, in an era when some ISP giants such as AT&T have become content providers themselves. Other content could be blocked or “throttled” by individual ISPs without net neutrality rules in place. While ISPs have yet to take any such drastic measures in the wake of net neutrality repeal, in part because of the massive public outcry against it, AT&T’s new chief of WarnerMedia recently griped that Netflix gets a “free-ride on connectivity over everybody.” On Wednesday, congressional Democrats will take steps to prevent those measure from taking place, when they introduce a bill titled the “Save the Internet” act, according to a letter sent to House Democrats by Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday. The legislation will also be introduced in the Senate, she said, though with the Senate remaining under GOP control, any such bill’s chance of passage there remains an iffy proposition at best. Of course, even if passed by the Senate, the net neutrality bill would face the possibility of a Donald Trump veto, as well.  Though Pelosi has not yet released the text or a summary of the net neutrality bill, it is expected to include a key provision expressly omitted from three competing, Republican-backed net neutrality bills. Those GOP bills fail to switch the official classification of the internet back to a “Title II common carrier telecommunications service.” The FCC repeal reclassified the internet as an “information service,” a category that allows for only much lighter government regulation.  Because the Republican bills do not reinstate the “information service” classification, open-internet advocates have dismissed them as fakes, pushed by ISP lobbyist “shills.”  The bill’s objective, according to Pelosi’s letter, will be “reversing the disastrous repeal by Trump’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in late 2017 of the critical net neutrality protections." “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,” Timothy Karr, senior director of strategy and communications at the advocacy group Free Press, told the tech site Gizmodo.  As AVN.com has reported, a major lawsuit led by Mozilla, makers of the open-source web browser Firefox, to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality repeal, is currently being heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Photo BY AFGE/Wikimedia Commons 

 
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