Senate Bill Attempts to Eliminate Net Neutrality and Prevent It from Ever Coming Back

The bill would roll back the Open Internet Order and prevent anything similar from ever being passed again

Senate Bill Attempts to Eliminate Net Neutrality and Prevent It from Ever Coming Back
Image: Pixabay
May 3, 2017

A bill introduced in the Senate this week would, if passed, not only get rid of net neutrality as provided by the Open Internet Order (OIO)—it would also prevent anything like it from ever being passed again.

Senator Mike Lee of Utah introduced the Restoring Internet Freedom Act earlier this week. The bill's title is long and does not bode well for consumers: "A bill to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] from reclassifying broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service and from imposing certain regulations on providers of such service."

In other words, the bill would stop the FCC from calling the Internet a telecommunications service. As a result, it would prevent the FCC from forcing providers to obey certain regulations—rules that are bad for telecom companies but good for consumers.

If the Internet isn't a telecommunications service, then telecommunications restrictions don't apply to the companies that provide it.

And the bill doesn't stop there. It also bars the FCC from "issu[ing] a new rule that is substantially the same" unless Congress writes another law specifically allowing it to do so.

In other words, once net neutrality is gone, the FCC will not legally be able to pass it or anything like it ever again unless Congress says it can.

However, net neutrality supporters argue that Congress has already passed a law allowing the agency to pass the regulations: the Communications Act. The telecom industry has challenged the Act, but to date the courts have upheld it.

Many net neutrality regulations have already been rolled back with the help of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a lesser-known law allowing lawmakers to review and roll back federal regulations that were finalized recently. However, the two-year-old OIO falls outside the time frame during which the CRA can be applied, so a new bill is necessary to roll it back.

The FCC wants to hear consumers' opinions on the Restoring Freedom Act, so don't hesitate to make your voice heard! You can tell them what you think by going to the official FCC page for the new bill and clicking "+ Express" on the left side of the page in the Docket section.