Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has introduced the Data Cap Integrity Act, which will limit the amount of capping ISPs can do and give consumers a clear idea of how much data they are using and what they are being charged for.
"Americans are increasingly tethered to the Internet and connecting more devices to it, but they don't really have the tools to effectively manage data consumption across their networks," said Wyden in a statement.
"Data caps create challenges for consumers and run the risk of undermining innovation in the digital economy if they are imposed bluntly and not designed to truly manage network congestion."
The bill calls for the FCC to make sure ISPs tell consumers the cost of their data, give an accurate up and download speed, and make plain when data is being throttled or managed. The FCC will also get the power to remove data caps if it determines they aren't in place for traffic-management purposes.
"Data caps can create an artificial scarcity in the broadband market that limits consumer choice and hinders the creation of new competitive content online," said Public Knowledge's VP of government affairs Christopher Lewis.
"Public Knowledge supports Sen. Wyden's effort to provide consumers with transparency on their data usage and to ensure that these caps do not limit innovative products and uses on the Internet."
The move comes only days after a report into data capping from the non-partisan New America Foundation think-tank. The detailed study concluded that data caps are ineffective at traffic management and are being used by ISPs to increase profits and lock down markets, and aren't growing to reflect greater internet use.
The report concluded that poor regulation and anti-competitive practices were harming the US economy and its internet capabilities, which are already well down the list of leading industrialized nations, and called for a rethink of current practices.
Wyden is one of the most tech-savvy politicians in Congress, although admittedly that's not saying much. He was a leading light in the fight against the Protect IP Act and has sought greater controls over government access to personal data, domain seizures, and against the more egregious sections of the Patriot Act. ®