Blackburn unveils alternative net neutrality measure

FCC
Representative Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., says her new net neutrality plan would ensure a free and open "space" by providing "light-touch" regulation. (Marsha Blackburn)

Communications Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is offering up a new net neutrality plan with the Open Internet Preservation Act. 

Blackburn
Marsha Blackburn

Blackburn tweeted that the new plan would ensure a free and open "space" by providing "light-touch" regulation.

While the bill would prohibit blocking and throttling, key elements of the 2015 net neutrality rules, the proposal includes provisions to preempt state net neutrality regulations and allow ISPs to engage in paid prioritization for traffic.

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RELATED: FCC overturns current net neutrality rules amid commission, industry group protest

Blackburn’s proposal was praised by fellow Republican Greg Walden, R-Ore., who serves as the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“Now that the Federal Communications Commission has taken action to restore Title I, it’s up to Congress to codify a light-touch framework while providing certainty and bright-line protections for consumers," Walden said in a statement. "The bill introduced today kicks off this important conversation, and lays the groundwork for Congress to enact broadly bipartisan principles that will preserve the dynamic internet ecosystem that has driven so much growth and innovation over the last two decades. I hope our Democratic colleagues will rethink their public strategy to ‘litigate not legislate’ as we begin this serious legislative effort.”

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), an organization whose membership includes the large telcos, also supported the congresswoman’s proposal.

“TIA welcomes the introduction of legislation to affirm and strengthen the FCC’s recent net neutrality decision," said Cinnamon Rogers, SVP of government affairs for the TIA, in a statement. "In addition to enshrining into law critical principles of internet openness that consumers demand and that TIA has long supported, it offers a potential end to the political ping pong of the past decade on this issue. The bill would provide critical regulatory certainty essential for the creation of high-paying manufacturing jobs, increased private sector investment and innovation to the benefit of consumers and businesses in every corner of America."

But other groups like Public Knowledge were not impressed.

“Unfortunately, Representative Blackburn’s bill falls short of restoring the strong net neutrality protections in the 2015 Open Internet Order," said Chris Lewis, VP at Public Knowledge, in a statement. "Like other inadequate legislative efforts in recent years by opponents to the 2015 rules, this bill is not a substitute for what was lost and ignores the overwhelming public opinion supporting the recently-repealed rules. Americans should demand nothing short of a full restoration of net neutrality protections. Fortunately, Congress can achieve this by supporting the proposals to overturn the FCC net neutrality repeal with a CRA Resolution of Disapproval."

The FCC voted on party lines (3-2) to overturn the net neutrality rules during its December monthly meeting, bypassing calls from public interest and consumer groups as well as between FCC commissioners.

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