Proposed Bill Would Require FCC To Forbid Internet Fast Lanes

The FCC is spending the summer considering their Open Internet Rule, the piece of cable company f*ckery with a giant loophole allowing companies to negotiate paid prioritization of their network traffic. Today, Democratic lawmakers are planning to introduce a bill that would outright ban those fast lanes.

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Rep. Doris Matsui of California plan to introduce the bill, the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act, in their respective houses of Congress later today, the Washington Post reports.

If passed, the bill wouldn’t change anything in the way the FCC works. It would create no new regulations, assign no new authority. Instead, it would instruct the FCC to use the regulatory tools they already have at their disposal to prevent paid prioritization, and would provide “crucial political cover” for doing so.

In other words: politicians seeking to score a point couldn’t come down on the FCC for making a regulatory choice if Congress ordered the agency to do it. The law would be an umbrella deflecting the you-know-what from raining down on the FCC, while also protecting open internet access for consumers and businesses alike.

The proposal only applies to connections between “last mile” service providers like Comcast or Verizon and the end user, and would not take interconnection or peering disputes into account. The FCC is considering interconnection questions separately from the net neutrality issue.

However, the bill effectively zero chance of ever becoming law. A Democratic aide confirmed to the Post that it is “unlikely to attract Republican cosponsors,” and once it has been referred to the black hole of committee we will probably never hear of it again.

The FCC’s wishy-washy proposal, meanwhile, has met with resistance from pretty much everyone. Internet companies, consumer advocates, and even members of Congress from both parties have voiced their opposition, and well over 170,000 members of the public have left overwhelmingly negative comments on the proceeding.

And as a reminder: if you have thoughts about net neutrality, fast lanes, and paid prioritization, you have less than a month left to let the FCC know. The first public comment period ends on July 15.

Democrats unveil legislation forcing the FCC to ban Internet fast lanes [Washington Post]