Amid the ongoing public debate over net neutrality, a group of democratic US lawmakers yesterday introduced legislation that would ban ISPs from charging Web content generators for the so-called "fast lanes" -- deals similar to the recent agreement between Netflix and Comcast.
Introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Representative Doris Matsui of California, along with three other Democrats, and dubbed the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act, the bill aims to prevent the creation of a two-tiered Internet system and ensure that startups, entrepreneurs, and consumers all have equal access to the Internet.
“Americans are speaking loud and clear”, Leahy said. “They want 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”.
Back in April, after an appeals court threw out an old version of the regulations, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler unveiled a fresh net neutrality proposal. However, the proposal received considerable backlash after it was revealed that it would allow ISPs to charge for faster delivery of Internet content.
Following which, Wheeler came up with a revised proposal to include assurances that the FCC will scrutinize the deals to make sure that the broadband providers don't unfairly degrade the traffic of nonpaying customers. It also seeks feedback on whether broadband Internet service should be considered a public utility.
Passed with a 3-2 vote, the proposal was made open for formal public comments for the next four months.
Although there is broad public support for Net Neutrality, it will not be easy for the bill to make it through the House of Representatives as Republicans are already being lobbied by the large phone and cable companies.