Open Internet Bill Introduced

A bill introduced by Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) will provide, in the future, a legislative solution to the extremely controversial subject of how the internet will be governed.

It will assure that a new FCC cannot undo and replace years of light touch regulation with far more stringent rules, as happened in 2015 with Chairman Tom Wheeler’s “net neutrality” order. That government power grab imposed Title II regulatory status on ISPs. And things could yo-yo back to a similar, heavy-handed approach in the future — if a different, politically motivated FCC reverses Chairman Pai’s recently passed order that broke the FCC’s strangle hold over the net.

The Blackburn bill, an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 entitled the Open Internet Preservation Act, would: ensure internet openness; prohibit the blocking of lawful content, applications, services and nonharmful devices; prohibit impairment or degradation of lawful internet traffic; and limit the authority of the FCC as well as preempting state law with respect to internet openness obligations.

Of special interest, the proposed bill, “provide(s) that broadband internet access service shall be considered…an INFORMATION service.” (Emphasis added} Thus, it will assure – through legislation – that ISPs will be regulated as Title I carriers.

This proposed internet regulatory regime could obviously be changed in coming years, but it would have to be accomplished by vote of the entire Congress – as Chairman Pai has advocated — rather than a majority of three FCC Commissioners.