Democrats Revive Fight for Net Neutrality

July 29, 2022 by Madeline Hughes
Democrats Revive Fight for Net Neutrality
Sen. Ed Markey.

WASHINGTON — Two senators and a member of the House of Representatives are working to ensure internet providers deliver equitable service to customers, banning the practice of throttling service and blocking access to certain content.

Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., announced their Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act Thursday that would amend the Communications Act of 1934 to “codify what we all already know to be true, that in 2022 broadband is not a luxury. Broadband is essential,” Markey said at a press conference Thursday.

The bill adds a clause to the Communications Act of 1934, which created the Federal Communications Commission, that says internet providers must provide equitable service to customers.

The Senate bill has 26 Democratic co-sponsors, as well as the two independents who caucus with the Democrats. 


It would restore the FCC’s ability to create rules like the 2015 regulations that prohibited internet service providers blocking consumers from accessing certain sites or applications or artificially slowing down data. 

The FCC under former President Donald Trump repealed those rules, making them voluntary or allowing companies to self-regulate.

In 2021 President Joe Biden signed an executive order to restore those net neutrality rules. 

The commission has yet to take up the politically charged point of contention.

The commission is currently deadlocked with four members — two Democrats and two Republicans. Biden’s nominee to fill the fifth seat is Gigi Sohn, a long-time net neutrality advocate who has had her nomination held up for months.

The two Democrats on the commission — Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and Commissioner Geoffrey Starks — both endorsed the net neutrality bill that would give the commission oversight.

Over the past year the bipartisan commission has worked together to expand broadband access through a variety of programs, working with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to spend the billions of dollars allocated through the bipartisan infrastructure law as part of the Internet for All initiative.


“Congress has just made historic investments in broadband deployment in our country … and we are proud of that,” Markey said. “But the question before us now is this: Will we seize this opportunity and make sure our nation’s broadband future works for everyone? Or will we accept the Trump FCC’s destructive regulatory approach that harms competitors and harms consumers in our country?

“By classifying internet as an essential service, we will empower the Federal Communications Commission to create a just broadband future for everyone in our country,” Markey said.

The lawmakers and commissioners agreed the commission has the ability to regulate internet service providers, and they welcomed this law as a reinforcement.

“I support net neutrality because it fosters this openness and accountability. While I trust the FCC has the authority it needs to adopt net neutrality rules, legislation that helps ensure it is the law of the land is welcome,” Rosenworcel said in a statement.

Net neutrality advocates are also heralding the lawmakers for attempting to solidify these regulations.

Jessica J. González, co-CEO of Free Press Action, spoke at the press conference about how firefighters had their data throttled while fighting fires in California last year.

She commended this law for providing Americans the security that “our communications and our broadband service work” when we need them most, González said.

The Trump administration’s “abdication of responsibility must be rectified and we are pleased that Sens. Markey and Wyden and Rep. Matsui are moving to do just that,” said Greg Guice, director of government affairs at Public Knowledge, in a statement urging Congress to act quickly. 

“This legislation is more than just a bill for net neutrality. It will reinstate the FCC, the expert agency, with the authority to promote policies to help consumers access broadband — repeatedly recognized by Congress as an essential service — as well as promote competition and public safety while strengthening the resiliency of these networks during disasters,” Guice said.

Wyden added during the press conference that now is a critical time to solidify the FCC’s power to ensure an open internet because people need to have a place to share their opinions and ideas when the country is discussing critical issues such as climate change, reproductive freedoms and a litany of other issues.


“The internet is the shipping lane of the 21st century. It’s really how you move [the] valuable cargo of ideas,” Wyden said.

Madeline can be reached at [email protected] and @MadelineHughes

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

Telecom

Poor, Less White Areas Get Worst Internet Deals

A couple of years into the pandemic, Shirley Neville had finally had enough of her shoddy internet service. “It was... Read More

A couple of years into the pandemic, Shirley Neville had finally had enough of her shoddy internet service. “It was just a headache,” said Neville, who lives in a middle-class neighborhood in New Orleans whose residents are almost all Black or Latino. “When I was getting... Read More

October 5, 2022
by Dan McCue
Companies Face Removal From Key Database for Skirting Anti-Robocall Rules

WASHINGTON — Seven voice service providers face removal from a key database managed by the Federal Trade Commission if they... Read More

WASHINGTON — Seven voice service providers face removal from a key database managed by the Federal Trade Commission if they fail to demonstrate they’re taking concrete steps to comply with the agency’s anti-robocall rules. The first-of-their-kind FCC Enforcement Bureau orders give the companies until Oct. 18... Read More

September 29, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
First Woman Selected to Lead UN’s Telecom Agency

BUCHAREST, Romania — An American was chosen to be the first woman to lead the United Nations’ telecommunications agency, the... Read More

BUCHAREST, Romania — An American was chosen to be the first woman to lead the United Nations’ telecommunications agency, the International Telecommunication Union, in its 157-year history after an overwhelming vote Thursday in Romania. Doreen Bogdan-Martin, the new secretary general of the agency, received 139 votes... Read More

September 28, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
FCC Rule Change Poised to Help Deaf Inmates

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission is looking at ways to help deaf incarcerated people connect better with their families... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission is looking at ways to help deaf incarcerated people connect better with their families through improved telecommunications services, including video chatting, in prisons and jails throughout the country. “Incarcerated people face considerable barriers to stay in touch with their loved... Read More

September 21, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
FCC Cracks Down on Chinese Companies Posing National Security Threat

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission formally added Pacific Networks Corp. and its wholly owned subsidiary ComNet and China Unicom... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission formally added Pacific Networks Corp. and its wholly owned subsidiary ComNet and China Unicom (Americas) Operations Limited to its list of companies whose telecom equipment and service pose a national security threat. The commission along with national security agencies created... Read More

September 20, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
Agencies Gather to Talk National Spectrum Policy

WASHINGTON — Spectrum was the talk of the town as dozens of officials from regulatory agencies and companies came together... Read More

WASHINGTON — Spectrum was the talk of the town as dozens of officials from regulatory agencies and companies came together for the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Spectrum Policy Symposium Monday. Its fifth summit held this year comes days before the Federal Communication... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top