The Save the Internet Act Offers Real Net Neutrality Protections
WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, lawmakers from both chambers of Congress announced plans to introduce companion bills to repeal the Trump FCC’s disastrous 2017 decision to gut Net Neutrality protections.
The Save the Internet Act would restore the entire 2015 Open Internet Order, including the rules it adopted, the protections and precedents set forth in the text of the FCC’s 2015 decision, and the Title II framework under which broadband-internet access is classified as a telecommunications service. The 2015 FCC order offered a solid legal basis, upheld in federal courts, for rules preventing companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from blocking, throttling or otherwise interfering with lawful internet traffic.
Speaking at a press conference to announce the legislation were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. They were joined by Chairman of House Energy and Commerce Committee Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, and Ranking Member of Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Maria Cantwell of Washington, along with Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania and Rep. Yvette Clarke of New York.
With the FCC’s 2017 repeal, the agency abdicated its congressionally mandated responsibility to protect internet users. In forcing that decision through, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai ignored the law governing the agency. He also concocted false allegations of harms to broadband investment from the Net Neutrality rules, and dismissed overwhelming public support for the Title II protections that were in place. Pai did all of this while refusing to investigate fraudulent efforts to influence the FCC’s comment process.
The chairman’s decision to repeal the Net Neutrality protections is unpopular across the political spectrum. Recent polls show that 82 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of independents oppose the decision.
Free Press Action Vice President of Policy and General Counsel Matt Wood made the following statement:
“Free Press Action thanks these congressional leaders for this bold and vital step, returning to the best framework for restoring Net Neutrality and a whole host of fundamental rights that internet users need.
“The Save the Internet Act follows the facts, recognizing that the 2015 Open Internet Order and the laws on which it stood were exactly right for the job. The bill draws on the overwhelming bipartisan support for this approach, including support among vast majorities of Republican, Democratic and independent voters. The bill’s authors reject lobbyists' empty rhetoric and evidence-free claims, understanding that broadband investment continued and deployment increased with the 2015 Open Internet Order in place.
“Restoring the entire 2015 order and the legal framework it followed is important for lots of other reasons too. Title II is essential for the broad and timeless nondiscrimination mandate that Congress wrote into this part of the Communications Act. That law empowers the FCC to prevent unlawful discrimination by ISPs, even when these companies’ tactics and tricks might not run afoul of the bright-line Net Neutrality rules in the 2015 order.
“Title II is also crucial for upholding other broadband rights and the FCC authority to protect them. That law was updated for the internet era on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis in 1996, and it gives the FCC the power to promote broadband deployment, affordability, competition, privacy, public safety, and disabilities access, all to ensure that ISPs offer service on a just and reasonable basis. These are protections that internet users still need, and in fact demand. The Save the Internet Act would put a stop to the FCC’s half-hearted attempts to fulfill those mandates while it runs away from the agency’s best source of legal authority to accomplish them.
“None of the three bills House Republicans introduced in February would safeguard Net Neutrality or other online rights. They instead would undermine the FCC’s ability to protect people online by removing broadband companies from nearly all effective oversight. Those bad bills’ real purpose is to permanently declaw the FCC — the one agency responsible for protecting the public interest in communications — while handing control of the internet to a small number of extremely powerful phone and cable companies.
“The Save the Internet Act is the only choice for any member of Congress wishing to protect the open internet and do right by their constituents.”