With the FCC at an impasse, two Democratic US senators are planning a bill to restore net neutrality rules in the United States
Two Democratic senators set to reopen a long-running tech battle with the US Republican Party.
CNN reported: that Senators Ed Markey and Ron Wyden will introduce a bill in the coming weeks to restore net neutrality rules for broadband providers in America.
It should be remembered that the US communications regulator (the FCC) under former President Barack Obama (a Democrat), had already passed net neutrality rules in 2015.
Democratic vs Republican
Those laws are designed to prevent service providers from blocking, delaying or charging more for access to certain content.
Before 2015, the FCC had enforced network neutrality on a case-by-case basis through four principles that the agency approved in 2005.
But Republican Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, and with his nomination of former FCC chairman Ajit Pai in 2017, the Republican-dominated FCC controversially voted to roll back Obama-era net neutrality rules for the United States.
The FCC’s 2017 decision had been hotly contested by the US Senate at the time, as well as by tech and small businesses, and by many US states.
However, the rollback was supported by some telecom providers.
So much so that California decided to go ahead and implement its own net neutrality law, much to the chagrin of the FCC.
California’s Net Neutrality Rule (SB 822) was designed to prevent the FCC from overturning rules that prevented Internet service providers from selectively blocking, slowing or speeding up apps and websites.
The Trump administration argued that the FCC, not US states, had exclusive authority to enact net neutrality rules, and in October 2018, the US Department of Justice filed an injunction to stop California from implementing its policies. own net neutrality law.
However, the Biden administration did not pursue the lawsuit against California.
It should also be noted that the FCC currently has a 2-2 split of Republican and Democratic commissioners.
This means that the FCC is currently in a 2-2 partisan standoff on net neutrality.
The Biden administration faced an uphill battle with Republicans to confirm Jessica Rosenworcel, a longtime Democratic commissioner at the FCC, as the FCC chairman.
The Biden administration is also under pressure to appoint a fifth commissioner to “ensure a fully functional Federal Communications Commission” (the FCC normally has five commissioners).
The US Senate has yet to confirm Gigi Sohn, Biden’s candidate to fill the fifth and final seat on the committee, who could give Rosenworcel enough votes to continue reinstating US net neutrality laws.
Meanwhile, California won a legal victory in February 2021 when the US District Court for the Eastern District of California rejected a preliminary injunction from telecom industry groups seeking to block California’s net neutrality legislation.
In April 2022, the US Appeals said it will not reconsider its decision to enforce California’s net neutrality law.
This means that the telecom groups can only appeal to the US Supreme Court.
Now, CNN reported that the draft bill from Senators Ed Markey and Ron Wyden would explicitly classify high-speed Internet as a telecommunications service, according to two people familiar with the matter, and empower the FCC to restrict Internet service providers (ISPs) with strict regulations that similar to the rules it imposes on old telephone providers.
Senate legislation is likely to be introduced before Congress enters the summer recess, while a similar bill is being developed in the House by Republican Doris Matsui, people reportedly said.
The coming legislative push was first reported by The Washington Post.
Under clarified authority from the US Congress, the FCC would officially be given the power to prohibit ISPs from selectively blocking, slowing down or speeding up apps and websites.
The same authority would also allow for other types of regulation, such as privacy rules that restrict ISPs’ use of customer service data for advertising or other ancillary purposes.