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Democratic Leaders Introduce Net Neutrality Legislation

February 3rd, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today Reps. Henry A. Waxman and Anna G. Eshoo introduced H.R. 3982, the Open Internet Preservation Act, with a Senate companion bill to be introduced by Sen. Ed Markey, to protect consumers and innovation online. Last month, the D.C. Circuit struck down the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet rules preventing broadband providers from blocking or discriminating against content online. The bill would restore these rules until the FCC takes new, final action in the Open Internet proceeding.

Original co-sponsors of the bills are: Reps. Waxman, Eshoo, Frank Pallone, Jr., Doris Matsui, Mike Doyle, Zoe Lofgren, Jan Schakowsky, Michael E. Capuano, and Suzan DelBene and Sens. Markey, Richard Blumenthal, Al Franken, Tom Udall, Ron Wyden, and Jeff Merkley.

“The Internet is an engine of economic growth because it has always been an open platform for competition and innovation,” said Rep. Waxman, Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. “Our bill very simply ensures that consumers can continue to access the content and applications of their choosing online. The FCC can and must quickly exercise the authorities the D.C. Circuit recognized to reinstate the Open Internet rules. Our bill makes clear that consumers and innovators will be protected in the interim.”

“With the recent D.C. Circuit appeals court ruling, the open Internet as we know it suffered a blow. By striking down rules that prevented broadband providers from discriminating against or even blocking online content, the Court’s decision threatens the openness and freedom that has defined the success of the Internet. Although the Court struck down the FCC’s ‘no-blocking’ and ‘nondiscrimination’ rules, it explicitly affirmed the agency’s authority to oversee broadband services in the United States,” said Rep. Eshoo, Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee. “I’m introducing legislation today to reinstate the FCC’s open Internet rules until the Commission adopts replacement rules. This bill ensures that consumers, not their Internet service provider, are in the driver’s seat when it comes to their online experience. 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.”

“The open nature of the Internet has made it the most successful commercial and communications medium in history,” said Sen. Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “The Internet’s vitality and openness drives competition, innovation and job creation and we need to ensure it remains a level playing field for consumers and innovators in the wake of the D.C. Circuit Court decision. This bill ensures consumers are protected until the FCC uses its clear authority, as recognized by the court, to put in place replacement rules. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this important legislation forward.”

“Keeping the Internet free from gatekeeper control is essential to ensuring consumers have access to the content, websites and services of their choice,” said Sen. Blumenthal, member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “Until the D.C. 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.”

“The Internet is an open marketplace where everyone can participate on equal footing,” said Sen. Franken, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. “And that’s the way it should be—the website of a Minnesota small business should load as quickly as the website of a large corporation. However, the FCC's rules for net neutrality were struck down last month. I immediately wrote to the FCC to press for swift action to preserve open and equal access to the Internet. This legislation is an important part of that effort.”

“The D.C. Circuit decision threatens network neutrality standards that preserve free speech, promote innovation, and help Internet entrepreneurs compete on a level playing field with established companies,” said Sen. Udall, chair of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations subcommittee. “Our legislation would restore the open Internet rules gutted by the court order and protect the open Internet we enjoy today until the FCC is able to address the issue. I urge Congress to hold a vote on our bill as soon as possible. And ultimately, I encourage the FCC to use its existing authority to ensure that the Internet continues to be an open platform for all.”

The full text of the bill is available online here. A bill summary is available online here.

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