Bill To Ban Internet Fast Lanes Proposed In Congress

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Democrats in the House and Senate introduced legislation today regarding so-called Internet fast lanes, which are currently under debate at the FCC. The FCC is reviewing and accepting comment on a set of recently proposed net neutrality rules aimed at formally codifying open Internet principles.

According to the Washington Post, which broke news of the bill, the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act would require the FCC to ensure that ISPs don’t speed up some content at the “expense of others.”

This would end paid prioritization, the FCC proposal that would allow for a faster “lane” for companies that pay.

In a statement provided to TechCrunch, Senator Patrick Leahy, who introduced the bill in the Senate, said that the American public has been plain-spoken on the matter, demanding an “Internet that is a platform for free expression and innovation, where the best ideas and services can reach consumers based on merit rather than based on a financial relationship with a broadband provider.”

Congresswoman Doris Matsui, who introduced the bill in the House, said in the same statement that “Our country cannot afford ‘pay-for-play’ schemes that divide our Internet into tiers based on who has the deepest pockets. The Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act will ban paid prioritization and ensure fair competition and consumer choices online. This is essential to the growth of our economy, and the health of our democracy.”

What is the chance that this bill becomes law? I wouldn’t get your hopes up too far — views on net neutrality and similar issues tend to split along party lines, and we have divided majorities in Congress. Put another way, do you see House Republicans passing a bill that would give the FCC more authority over private enterprise?

But the above indicates that at least a certain cadre of our elected leaders are technologically savvy enough to know a bad idea when they see one.

The FCC is still accepting comments on its proposed rules for another month, if you wanted to state your case.

IMAGE BY FLICKR USER MATT NEWMAN UNDER CC BY 2.0 LICENSE (IMAGE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)