Senate Democrats filed a petition this week to force a vote on Sen. Edward Markey’s (D-Mass.) “net neutrality” resolution. More precisely, Markey’s bill would reverse the FCC’s December 2017 decision to roll back the agency’s 2015 assumption of heavy-handed Title II powers over internet service providers. The FCC announced that its December order, which restored the rules under which the internet flourished for decades, is set to officially take effect on June 11.
Utilizing red alert symbols, Markey called this “the most important week for the internet that the Senate has ever seen.” He contends that his effort to support the agency’s previous unilateral power grab will “ensure Americans aren’t subject to higher prices, slower internet traffic, and even blocked websites.”
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) lamented this “manufactured controversy” and “ominous narrative” of Markey and his allies in a CNBC article. Thune, who has been pushing for a bipartisan legislative compromise, said, “Rather than voting for 21st Century rules to protect the internet, we'll be taking a show vote on whether to look backwards and re-apply rules meant for the old Ma' Bell phone system to the modern internet. This is a mistake, and only delays concrete protections for a free and open internet.”
When FCC Chairman Ajit Pai led the commission to approve his “Restoring Internet Freedom” framework in December, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, president & CEO of NRB, commended the agency for “resisting alarmism” and Pai, in particular, “for his fairness, transparency, and firm commitment to an online environment that honors freedom and welcomes innovation.”
Johnson then added, "While the previous administration’s executive power play is not the answer, there are indeed valid concerns about blocking and other forms of discrimination online. Now that the FCC has appropriately reversed course, I urge the people’s representatives in Congress to take a closer look at issues like viewpoint censorship by holding hearings that survey the practices of powerful players across the entire internet ecosystem, including seemingly ubiquitous edge provider platforms.”
Also in December, at a National Press Club event, NRB launched a new initiative – Internet Freedom Watch (www.InternetFreedomWatch.org) – to draw greater attention to the problem of online censorship by such edge providers.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: May 11, 2018