Lawmakers propose legislation to ban Internet fast lanes

Two Democratic lawmakers have proposed a new bill that they say would keep the Internet open by ensuring that the Internet is accessible to any user and not giving preferential treatment to certain types of traffic by prohibiting "fast lanes."

Led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), the proposal requires the FCC to use its authority to prevent any ISP from giving priority for bandwidth-hungry applications like Netflix while degrading service for consumers accessing e-mail.  

"Americans are speaking loud and clear," said Leahy, who is holding a hearing on net neutrality in Vermont this summer, in a Washington Post article. "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."

This proposal comes amidst protest of new rules put forth by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in May. These rules are meant to reinstate regulations passed by the regulator in 2010 that were supposed to keep the Internet open but were thrown out on a legal technicality by a federal appeals court in January.

Since the bill does not give the FCC more power, it's unclear how effective it could be in enforcing rules on broadband providers.

One of the hotly contested issues is whether the FCC has the authority to ban traffic discrimination. Today, the FCC would permit speed arrangements between ISPs and content providers, but then look at ones that aren't working versus an outright restriction on "paid prioritization."

Another option from consumer advocates like Public Knowledge proposed that the FCC reclassify broadband as a utility, a move that would subject service providers to more regulation. Service providers said that loopholes in the law could create traffic discrimination.

For more:
- The Washington Post has this article
- Wired has this article

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