In a coordinated move, Congressional Democrats have introduced legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives to enshrine network neutrality principles in law until the Federal Communications Commission rules on the matter.
"This bill ensures that consumers, not their Internet service provider, are in the driver's seat when it comes to their online experience," said the House bill's cosponsor, Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA).
"The free and open Internet has been a pillar of our country's growing economy, unparalleled technological innovation, and even global social movements. It is the backbone of our digital world, and I intend to keep it that way."
H.R. 3982, or the Open Internet Preservation Act, is a simple two-page bill which states that the FCC's previous ruling on net neutrality stays in operation. The bill follows last month's court ruling that the FCC wasn't entitled to block telecommunications companies from giving differing priorities to internet traffic.
The bill doesn't dictate exactly what net neutrality rules should be enforced, nor change the responsibilities of the FCC. It will only remain in force until the FCC has set out new neutrality standards, a move the agency's chairman has pledged to sort out.
"Keeping the Internet free from gatekeeper control is essential to ensuring consumers have access to the content, websites and services of their choice," said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who helped put corresponding legislation before the Senate.
"Until the DC Circuit Court's recent decision, broadband companies had been barred from blocking content they dislike or holding innovative new services hostage for higher and higher tolls. This bill would reinstate principles of choice and freedom on the Internet and protect consumers and entrepreneurs."
President Obama has said he supports net neutrality legislation, and the bill is likely to pass in the majority-Democratic Senate with little problems. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is, however, highly unlikely to pass the bill as it stands. ®