Senator Markey Preps Net Neutrality Bill

A Senate Democrat vowed Friday to introduce legislation restoring the net neutrality rules.

“We will soon lay down a legislative marker in the Senate in support of net neutrality to show the American people that we are on their side in ... supporting a free and open internet,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) stated.

His comments came the same day that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments about the legality of the Federal Communications Commission's decision to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rules.

Those regulations classified broadband access as a utility service and imposed some common carrier rules -- including prohibitions on blocking or throttling traffic, and on charging higher fees for prioritized delivery.

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In December 2017, the FCC voted 3-2 to reclassify broadband as an “information” service and revoke the prohibitions on blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. When the FCC voted to revoke the rules, it also voted to prohibit states from passing or enforcing their own net neutrality laws.

Consumer advocacy groups, tech companies including Mozilla and state attorneys general asked a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court to vacate the FCC's move and reinstate the Obama-era rules. The FCC defended its decision to revoke the rules.

Markey, who has long advocated for open internet rules, said Friday that the FCC “ignored” the Communications Act and Congress's intent when it repealed the rules. “They are on the wrong side of history, and I believe the court will find in our favor,” he stated.

Last year, the Senate voted 52-47 to restore the Obama-era rules. But the resolution failed to gain traction in the House, which was then controlled by Republicans.

Now that the House is under Democratic leadership, it's preparing to take up net neutrality. The Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled the first hearing for Thursday, February 7.

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