Democrats' bill would ban paid prioritization by ISPs

Legislation would require the FCC to prohibit traffic priority deals between ISPs and Web content providers

Democrats in the U.S. Congress have wasted no time in resurrecting a debate over net neutrality rules, with lawmakers introducing a bill that would ban paid traffic priority agreements between broadband providers and Web content producers.

A day after new members of Congress were seated, Democrats on Wednesday introduced a bill in both the House of Representatives and the Senate that would require the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to ban paid prioritization agreements. The FCC is preparing to vote on new net neutrality rules in late February, after an appeals court threw out a large portion of the agency's old rules a year ago.

The reintroduced Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act, which failed to pass after Democrats introduced it last year, is designed to prevent broadband providers from creating Internet fast lanes and slow lanes, based on the ability of Web content providers and services to pay for faster speeds, sponsors said.

The primary sponsors of the bill are Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, and Representative Doris Matsui, a California Democrat. Other co-sponsors include six Democratic representatives, three Democratic senators, and independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

"The Internet must be a platform for free expression and innovation, and a place where the best ideas and services can reach consumers based on merit rather than based on a financial relationship with a broadband provider," Leahy said in a statement. "The Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act would protect consumers and sets out important policy positions that the FCC should adopt."

FCC rules must ensure "there are no tolls, gatekeepers, or a two-tiered Internet system in this country," Matsui added in a statement.

Republicans now hold the majority in both the House and the Senate, and many have voiced opposition to strong net neutrality regulations. While the Democrats' bill is unlikely to pass, it puts political pressure on the FCC to ban paid prioritization. An early proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would have allowed broadband providers to engage in "commercially reasonable" traffic management and, in limited cases, sign traffic prioritization deals.

The bill would require the FCC to prohibit paid prioritization agreements on the last-mile Internet connection, the connection between the ISP and the consumer. It would also prohibit broadband providers from prioritizing its own last-mile Internet traffic over the traffic of other companies.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentbroadbandregulationinternetlegislationtelecommunicationInternet service providersU.S. Federal Communications CommissionPatrick LeahyDoris MatsuiU.S. CongressBernie Sanders

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?