House & Senate Hearings on Net Neutrality Legislation
On January 21, the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held hearings discussing draft legislation by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-6th-MI) that would:
- Prohibit ISPs from blocking and throttling legal content
- Ban paid prioritization
- Ban ISPs from prohibiting the use of non-harmful devices
- Require broadband to be classified as an information service
- prohibit the FCC from using authority under section 706
ISPs would, though, be allowed to offer specialized services, but none that would evade these obligations.
The bill limits the FCC to enforcing these obligations only by adjudicating consumer complaints against ISPs. The agency would not be able to make any rules that would require ISPs to hold to these obligations. If the bill is enacted, the FCC would have 60 days to adopt formal procedures for dealing with consumer complaints.
The bill defines broadband internet as a “mass market retail service” that “provides advanced telecommunications capability” but shall be considered an information service. Broadband “transmits and receives data from all Internet endpoints, including transmissions that enable the operations of communications services.” This definition applies to any other equivalent service.
The bill also states that the FCC or state commissions with regulatory jurisdiction over telecommunications cannot use section 706 as authority over broadband.