US Lawmakers Seek Ban Of Revised Net Neutrality Law

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Two lawmakers introduce bill to ban deals allowing certain companies to pay for faster IP traffic delivery

The controversy over the net neutrality debate in America has deepened with the news that two US lawmakers now want to ban the ability of ISPs to charge for priority traffic.

It comes after big names in the tech industry, including the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Google, LinkedIn, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo, called for the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to end its controversial net neutrality plan.

Net Neutrality

The FCC’s proposed ‘Net Neutrality’ rules contain a provision allowing businesses to pay Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for faster content delivery.

Back in 2011, the FCC had passed Net Neutrality rules designed to keep the Internet free and prevent service providers from blocking each others’ business. But in January this year, a lawsuit by Verizon resulted in a ruling that the US telecoms regulator could not force ISPs to treat all traffic equally – a decision widely criticised by freedom of speech campaigners at the time.

internet net neutrality (C) Peshkova - ShutterstockThe FCC said then it would propose a new set of rules rather than try and appeal the decision.

The FCC’s new rules, which are up for public comment until 10 September over whether such pay-for-priority deals should be banned, has led to protests from many groups.

Prioritisation Ban

And now two Democratic lawmakers in the United States have introduced legislation in the Senate and the House of Representatives to ban deals where Web content companies can pay ISPs to deliver their traffic faster and more reliably.

According to Reuters, the bicameral bill has been filed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and Representative Doris Matsui of California. Their bill would require the FCC to prohibit such agreements for paid prioritisation on the so-called “last mile”.

“Americans are speaking loud and clear – 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,” Leahy was quoted as saying.

It should be noted however that the lawmaker’s bill would not stop the interconnection deals in the US, which have triggered a dispute between the likes Netflix, Comcast and Verizon Communications recently.

On this side of the pond, the EU parliament has approved plans to enshrine Net Neutrality in European law, but they have to be adopted by individual member states.

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