UPDATED: House introduces net neutrality bill

Signal File Photo: Congressman Steve Knight speaks about his work in Washington during a public meeting. Dan Watson/For the Signal
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Hailing it as an effort to protect the principles of net neutrality, Congressman Steve Knight co-sponsored a bill Tuesday to address the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of the Obama-era policy last week.

Referred to as the Open Internet Preservation Act, the bill prohibits broadband Internet providers from blocking lawful content or service and creates a formal complaint procedure for the FCC to address alleged violations. However, the bill prohibits states from enacting their own net neutrality laws.

Knight, R-Palmdale, promised to pursue legislation that would address concerns with the FCC’s repeal, he said on social media last week.

“An equal and open Internet is vital to protect small business, foster innovation and deliver the best quality products and services to consumers,” Knight, who serves as a co-sponsor for the bill, said in a statement. “If you pay for a specific Internet speed, you should be able to use that data transfer rate how you best see fit.”

The bill, written by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Texas, addresses many of Knight’s issues with the repeal, he said.

Internet rules should not be “political ping pong” from one administration to another, according to Blackburn, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

“This bill will ensure there is no blocking and no throttling on the Internet and will make sure the Internet is an open and fair marketplace,” Blackburn said in a statement. “We need light-touch regulation and stability for the Internet.”

The internet industry wants a lasting solution to net neutrality protections for consumers, The Internet Association’s Internet Association President and CEO Michael Beckerman said in a statement.

In its current form, this legislation is not that solution, but it is a commendable way to move the net neutrality conversation forward, Beckerman said.

“The proposal circulated today does not meet the criteria for basic net neutrality protections – including bright-line rules and a ban on paid prioritization – and will not provide consumers the protections they need to have guaranteed access to the entire internet,” Beckerman said in a statement. “Real net neutrality legislation should be bipartisan and have input from other stakeholders, including the user community, public interest groups and industry.”

The Internet Association, which includes Amazon, Google and Microsoft among others, will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure consumer protection, Beckerman said.

Santa Clarita Valley resident and eBay software engineer Brett Haddock said while the bill appears at face value to address net neutrality concerns, it is “awful” and allows poor service as a baseline and costlier premium service.

“It sounds good on paper, but has a huge loophole in the guise of ‘specialized services,’ which basically allows ISPs to offer ‘fast lanes,’” Haddock said. “This bill isn’t about net neutrality, don’t let it fool you.”

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