Nancy Pelosi Says Democrats Are Introducing a Bill to ‘Save the Internet’
Here’s some potentially good news from Washington, DC: House Democrats are set to introduce legislation to restore net neutrality this week. According to Gizmodo, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Monday that Democrats will present the “Save the Internet Act” on Wednesday, March 6, though no details of the bill are currently available.
Gizmodo and other observers predict that the bill will likely aim to restore net neutrality by reclassifying broadband internet as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which allows the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate services. Some states, including Pelosi’s home state of California, already have strict policies (which have not yet gone into effect) protecting net neutrality, but the battle has been ongoing at the federal level for years.
Progressives tend to favor net neutrality because it benefits the majority of internet users. Net neutrality means that internet service providers should not be allowed to slow down or block internet access for different kinds of internet communications. Following net neutrality, internet service providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, cannot charge different rates for different kinds of content accessed on the web or different devices used to access the internet. This helps “to protect the future of our open Internet,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an internet privacy and free speech organization.
Overall, net neutrality keeps the internet more affordable for everyone, which is why it’s so popular among voters. According to an April 2018 report from Mozilla, 91 percent of Americans “believe consumers should be able to freely and quickly access their preferred content on the internet.”
Net neutrality is on the table for federal legislation once more because the FCC voted to undo Obama-era polices protecting it under Title II of the Communications Act in 2017. The Republican-dominated Senate voted to restore protections for net neutrality in 2018, but the the House did not address net neutrality again prior to last year’s midterm elections. Many states also quickly moved to sue the FCC over the 2017 repeal in cases that are still ongoing.
Historically, the Trump administration has been hostile to net neutrality policies. The administration went so far as to announce a lawsuit against the state of California last fall over the state’s net neutrality law, which had been signed for just an hour before the DOJ sued.
Regarding the new legislation, Communications Daily reporter Jimm Phillips tweeted Tuesday that the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on restoring net neutrality on March 12.
— Jimm Phillips (@jimmphillipsdc) March 5, 2019
Reinstating broadband internet access to the realm of the FCC, as it was during the Obama administration, is a move in the right direction. However, it does not go as far as California laws, and as far as many advocates for net neutrality would prefer. The EFF says not only that net neutrality needs to be restored, but that “ISPs must be open about how traffic is managed over their networks in order for anyone to know when there’s a problem.”
(Photos via Win McNamee/Getty Images + Scott Olson/Getty Images)