“Why in God’s name would anyone agree to something now?” said Gigi Sohn, a Democratic FCC aide who help craft the net neutrality rules of 2015 that were swept aside by the Republican-led agency earlier this month.
That view is being echoed over and over by the Democrats about a Republican bid to put forward legislation that would ban broadband providers from either throttling or blocking web traffic to certain sites.
While that looks like a positive move on the surface, Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, has offered legislation that does not address the issue of “fast lanes”, which is a major point of contention at this time.
What the legislation also proposes is to cut off FCC and state control over net neutrality, which is why it’s being met with serious criticism by the Democrats.
Blackburn’s bill, says Senator Ed Markey, (D-Mass.), “doesn’t just rip authority away from the FCC to protect consumers, it goes further to undermine the very spirit of net neutrality by allowing broadband providers to establish internet fast and slow lanes.”
“We are at the point of litigation, not legislation,” he added, as several groups are looking to federal courts to overturn the FCC’s vote.
Broadband providers, on the other hand, want the issue of net neutrality to rest with Congress, not the FCC. But Congress is divided along party lines on the issue of net neutrality.
The issue of fast lanes is deliberately being skirted by Blackburn’s bill, the reason cited being the same one that the FCC has used in its arguments: that some industry innovators may want to be able to pay for their data speeds to be prioritized.
From that perspective the bill does seem to address the major issue of access and throttling for the general public. But with the Democrats hoping for more congressional seats in next year’s elections, the bill’s timing may not be quite right.
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