Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana said Wednesday that he has introduced a bill that would restore some of the Obama-era net neutrality requirements.
But the Open Internet Preservation Act, a companion to the measure introduced in the House last year by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), would fall short of fully reinstating the rules. The bill would prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, but would allow providers to charge higher fees for faster delivery of content.
Kennedy stated Wednesday that the bill was a "compromise that benefits the consumer."
"Does this bill resolve every issue in the net neutrality debate? No, it doesn’t," he stated. "It's not a silver bullet. But it's a good start."
Net neutrality advocates quickly denounced the measure as a "fake net neutrality" bill that will give too much power to broadband providers.
“While Senator Kennedy claims his bill was written in defense of an open internet, its true goal is to let a few unregulated monopolies stifle competition and control the future of communications," Free Press Action Fund President and CEO Craig Aaron stated Wednesday.
Last December, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to revoke Obama-era net neutrality rules that prohibited broadband providers from blocking or throttling traffic and from charging higher fees for prioritized delivery of content. Chairman Ajit Pai, who backed the repeal, said the former regulations depressed investment. But consumer advocates and other net neutrality advocates argue that the rules are necessary to prevent broadband providers from censoring sites or discriminating against competitors like Netflix.
In the three months since the FCC's vote, open internet advocates have attempted to restore the rules through a variety of mechanisms. Among others, advocates have urged lawmakers to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the repeal. That law allows federal lawmakers to vacate recent agency decisions by passing a resolution of disapproval. Fifty senators -- including one Republican -- have signed on to the resolution, leaving the measure just one vote short in that body.
Kennedy said last month that he was "undecided" about whether to support that resolution.
The advocacy organization Fight for the Future said Wednesday that Kennedy "betrayed the entire Internet."
"The fact that he thinks his constituents would be fooled by this trojan horse legislation is insulting," Fight for the Future deputy director Evan Greer stated.