“Save the Internet Act” Clears First Hurdle in House

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (PA-18) announced that the legislation he introduced to restore Net Neutrality, the “Save the Internet Act,” has been approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

“This is the first step forward in a long legislative process,” Congressman Doyle said after the markup. With enough public support, we can enact the Save the Internet Act and make Net Neutrality a permanent law.”

“Today, thanks to Chairman Doyle’s leadership, we are one step closer to restoring a free and open internet,” Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone said. “Failure to continue moving forward on this legislation is simply not an option, and I look forward to bringing it up for a vote before the full Committee soon.”

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.

Click here for bill text.

Click here for comments of support from consumer groups.

Chairman Doyle’s opening statement follows below:

 

Opening Statement

 Chairman Mike Doyle

Subcommittee on Communications and Technology

Markup - Save the Internet Act

March 26, 2019

 

Welcome to the Subcommittee on Communication and Technology’s first markup of this new Congress.

Today, we will be marking up the Save the Net Act, which I introduced earlier this month - and which has been cosponsored by 163 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 these rules. Polls show that 83% Americans of all of stripes, whether they be Republicans, Independents, or Democrats strongly support Net Neutrality rules.

So many people 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.

That is why I am happy that today we are marking up the Save the Internet Act.

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 achieve these goals by codifying the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order, as a new free-standing section of law that would ensure the Internet remains an open platform for innovation and competition, regardless of political changes at the FCC.

By codifying the order, this legislation also permanently prevents the FCC from applying 27 sections the Communications Act as well as over 700 regulations, the majority of Title 2. In doing so, the bill permanently prohibits the FCC from engaging in rate setting, requiring that broadband providers unbundle their network, or levying additional taxes or fees on broadband access.

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. This bill removes much of the regulatory overhang of Title 2 that Internet Service Providers and our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have long complained about.

The bill retains the Commission’s ability to police unjust and unreasonable practices by ISPs.

Opponents of this legislation need to ask themselves, what are the unjust and unreasonable practices that they want ISPs to be engaged in, and why would we want to allow such practices.

I have encouraged my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to seriously consider this legislation, and I’m hopeful they will, this bill is a new approach, and an open invitation to our colleagues and ISPs alike to come together and support a new way forward.

This committee is known for its bipartisanship. At our recent hearing, I urged my colleagues to reach out to me if they were interested in working together.  And I’m disheartened that neither I nor my staff have had any outreach from any of my colleagues on the other side asking to discuss this legislation, any potential amendments, or any other related legislation.

However, my door remains open if members wish to discuss changes to the bill between now and full committee markup.

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

It is my hope that we conduct this markup in a civil and efficient manner, as all of you know that I’m not a fan of needlessly wasting time.  

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