Since June, 2015, net neutrality — or specifically, the FCC’s Open Internet Rule — has been the law of the land. While the rule is a win for consumers, plenty of businesses and politicians still don’t care for it, to say the least. So while the court challenge against it takes its own sweet time to mosey through the judicial system, opponents are taking another approach. What’s the best way to undo a law you hate? Get a new law.
So that’s exactly what a group of senators are trying to do.
Senator Mike Lee of Utah, along with seven co-sponsors, introduced the new bill late last week.
The bill, called the Restoring Internet Freedom Act, seeks explicitly to reverse the FCC’s ruling and prohibits the commission either from classifying broadband as a Title II service or from regulating it.
The text of the proposed bill, aside from definitions, states that the FCC’s Open Internet Rule “shall have no force or effect, and the Commission may not reissue such rule substantially in the same form, or issue a new rule that is substantially the same as such rule” unless Congress passes another law allowing them to do so first.
This is not Congress’s first stab at trying to handle net neutrality without involving — or specifically uninviting — the FCC. One popular call from telecom businesses during the rulemaking process in 2014 and 2015 was to let Congress create legislation, instead of having the FCC take action, and Congress tried just that.
A draft bill was discussed in the Senate about a month before the FCC held its landmark vote to reclassify broadband service. That bill sought to enact weaker versions of the same net neutrality protections, while also (1) creating loopholes for businesses and, (2) stripping the FCC of its authority to regulate broadband services at all.
That bill didn’t go anywhere before the FCC took action, so now Congress is taking a different approach.
All five FCC commissioners, meanwhile, will be testifying in an oversight hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee tomorrow, where net neutrality is highly likely to be one of the many topics of discussion.