“Save the Internet Act” Approved by Energy & Commerce Committee

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (PA-18) announced that the legislation he introduced to restore Net Neutrality, the “Save the Internet Act,” was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee today, clearing the way for consideration of the bill by the full House of Representatives, which is expected next week.

The approach that we are discussing here today charts a new course for Net Neutrality and would put in place 21st Century rules for a 21st Century Internet,” Congressman Doyle said at the markup. Together we hope to advance this legislation through the Congress and restore these essential protections for all Americans.”

The Save the Internet Act would prohibit internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid prioritization; close loopholes by empowering the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to stop unjust, unreasonable, and discriminatory practices; foster innovation and competition by ensuring fair and equal access to broadband for start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs; and promote deployment and access to broadband for consumers and businesses in rural, suburban, and urban areas across America.

This bill would empower the FCC to assist consumers with complaints against their internet service provider – and enforce and fine internet service providers for violations; expand its authority to promote access and adoption of broadband across the country through universal service funding; facilitate broadband deployment by ensuring fair access to utility poles, ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way; protect the privacy of internet service provider customers’ account data; and ensure access to service for people with disabilities.

Senator Ed Markey (MA) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

ISPs have a long history of using their control over the link between internet users and the Internet Backbone to block – or extract money from – consumers and “edge providers”. That’s bad for consumers, bad for many businesses, and bad for the economy. It also slows down technological innovation and provides a serious obstacle to online start-ups, reducing our global competitiveness and slowing improvements in Americans’ standard of living.

The long history of anti-competitive, anti-consumer behavior by ISPs compelled the FCC to establish rules protecting Net Neutrality a number of years ago, and to ratchet up its rules in response to ISP violations of – and legal challenges to – Net Neutrality through 2015, when the Commission adopted the Open Internet Order

Under the Open Internet Order, consumers had the right to access the content of their choice on the Internet, and content providers had the right to access consumers without having to pay tolls or have their service blocked or degraded by an ISP. The Open Internet Order prohibited Internet Service Providers from using their position between consumers and the Internet to advantage themselves, their own products and services, or third parties that want preferential treatment.

The Trump FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai voted in 2017 to kill the Open Internet Order.

Representative Doyle and Senator Markey led an effort to enact legislation under the Congressional Review Act to overturn the Trump FCC’s action. The bill was approved by the Senate, but the House Republican Leadership refused to bring it to the House Floor.

Control of the House of Representatives changed hands in January 2019, improving the prospects for passing legislation to restore Net Neutrality.

Information for this markup, including video of the proceedings, is posted here.

Chairman Doyle’s opening statement follows below:

 

Opening Statement

The Honorable Mike Doyle

House Energy and Commerce Committee

Mark-Up of Save the Internet Act

April 3, 2019

 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I’m happy that today, we will be marking up the Save the Internet Act, which we marked up in the telecom subcommittee last week, and which has now been cosponsored by 182 of our colleagues here in the House.

Over the course of this debate we have heard from consumer advocates, minority and underrepresented communities, rural broadband providers, small businesses, innovators, entrepreneurs, and millions of constituents – all calling for the restoration of Net Neutrality rules. Polls show that 83% Americans of all of stripes, whether they be Republicans, Independents, or Democrats strongly support these rules.

People around the country care deeply about a free and open internet because it is critical for so many communities and sectors of our economy. Today, broadband connectivity touches almost every aspect of our economy, politics, and culture.

First, this legislation would restore popular, bipartisan, common sense net neutrality protections, and put a cop back on the beat to protect consumers, small businesses, and competitors from unjust and unreasonable practices by Internet Service Providers.

Second, this bill gives the FCC the authority to protect consumers now and, in the future, through forward looking regulatory authority.

Third, the bill restores the Commission’s legal authority to support broadband access and deployment programs through the Universal Service Fund. These programs pay for the deployment of broadband in rural communities through the Connect America Fund and support access to working families, seniors, and veterans through the Life Line program.

The Save the Internet Act would codify the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order, and in so doing, permanently prohibit the FCC from applying provisions that require rate setting, requiring that broadband providers unbundle their network, or levying additional taxes or fees on broadband access.

Based on the input from the minority at our subcommittee markup, I have also filed a manager’s amendment that would further clarify the intent and scope of the forbearance in this legislation to make crystal clear what we have said all along regarding this legislation. 

The approach that we are discussing here today charts a new course for Net Neutrality and would put in place 21st Century rules for a 21st Century Internet.

Together we hope to advance this legislation through the Congress and restore these essential protections for all Americans.

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