House Democrats introduce new Net Neutrality Bill
- The bill will repeal the Trump administrations removal of the Obama-era net neutrality laws
- The new bill will make telecom services an essential service
- The FCC hasn't passed new laws as there is no clear majority amongst commissioners
The new Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Bill led by Senators Ed Markey (Democrat from Massachusetts) and Ron Wyden (Democrat from Oregon) was introduced in Congress on Thursday.
The bill would put broadband under Title II, and reclassify it as a telecommunications service. By classifying it as a telecom service and by extension, an essential service, the new bill, if passed, would give the Federal Communications Commission the power to enforce rules on practices that block or throttle lanes of Internet traffic.
Net neutrality, first put in place by Barrack Obama's government was repealed during the Donald Trump's administration in 2017. This bill seeks to counter that. Last year, President Joe Biden had signed an executive order, one of the provisions was directing the FCC to reinstate net neutrality. However, that has not happened.
The FCC functions with five commissioners. Currently, there are four sitting commissioners, with a fifth Democrat appointment made by Biden, waiting for approval from the Senate. For the last two years, the Democrat commissioners have been unable to push any new rules without the help of their Republican counterparts. Till then, the FCC is deadlocked at 2-2. The appointment has been pending for 500 days.
Senator Markey took to Reddit to host an Ask Me Anything question and answer chain on the r/politics subreddit. Answering questions on why the net neutrality bill is important, Markey referred to the 2018 California forest fires where it was revealed that Verizon had throttled the data speeds of the firefighters' communication network, disrupting their response to the emergency situation.
Markey said that data privacy was next on his list of things to tackle after the net neutrality legislation. He told redditors that he was working on getting his legislation towards protecting children and teens' online privacy through the Senate and that he had "bipartisan consensus." The bill is called the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act.