Republicans' 'Internet Freedom Act' Does Away With Net Neutrality


Republican Marsha Blackburn filed legislation that she calls the "Internet Freedom Act" in an attempt to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules, which were voted on by the FCC last week.

These rules essentially give the FCC power to regulate the Internet, in a way that would prevent Internet service providers such as Comcast from speeding up or slowing down certain websites.

FCC's rules "shall have no force or effect, and the Commission may not reissue such rule in substantially the same form, or issue a new rule that is substantially the same as such rule, unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act," says the Internet Freedom Act.

As it is often the case with these Republican politicians, Blackburn has a lot of reason to side with Internet service providers. In the last election cycle, Blackburn received $25,000 from an AT&T political action committee, $20,000 from a Comcast PAC, $20,000 from a cable industry association PAC and $15,000 from a Verizon PAC.

It is not known whether Blackburn is acting at the suggestion of Internet service providers, but if not, as mentioned, she certainly has reason to fight for these companies, whether it benefits the general public or not.

The FCC voted on its new rules to much fanfare last week, but there is a long road ahead before the rules can be put into effect and before the FCC can actually start regulating the Internet in a more serious way. A number of Internet service providers have already expressed that they will be taking legal action against the FCC, with Blackburn's new bill being likely the first of many challenges to the Commission.

What is surprising, however, is the fact that Blackburn's bill will not even enforce a weaker, less intense version of the FCC's proposals. This is in line with her past proposals, such as in 2011 when there was another vote by the FCC to regulate the Internet under Title II. Many Republicans have expressed interest in regulating the Internet to a much lesser extent, if only for the fact that Democrats in Congress will not likely approve a bill completely against Internet regulation.

"Republicans are going to keep moving forward with regular order on their legislation and inviting Democrats to make their amendments," said Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom, in an interview. "That's Track 1, and it's not going to be rushed."

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