Maloney Introduces Legislation to Save the Open Internet, Block FCC Rollback of Net Neutrality
WASHINGTON — Days before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on its proposed rollback of Net Neutrality rules that protect the open internet, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) introduced the Save Net Neutrality Act (H.R. 4585) to stop the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would result in a final rule eliminating the existing Net Neutrality policy.
“The FCC’s proposal to screw up your internet is just about the worst plan I’ve seen – the comment period was a mess and the rest of the proposal is full of holes,” said Rep. Maloney. “My bill would stop this rule from going into effect and keep the internet the way it is – affordable, open, and full of innovation.”
“People are lifting up their voices for Net Neutrality, and the message is loud and clear,” said Matt Wood, Policy Director, Free Press Action Fund. “The rules and the legal framework we have today at the FCC are working. We have called on Congress to stop Chairman Pai from taking those successful rules away. We don’t need legislators to fix Net Neutrality, we need them to fix the current rules in place. We thank Rep. Maloney for working to do that.”
The FCC offered an NPRM on May 18, 2017 which would rollback Net Neutrality rules established by the Commission in 2015. These rules classified Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as “common carriers” under Title II of the Federal Communications Act of 1934 and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which subjected them to regulation as utilities. Net Neutrality protects the free and open internet by preventing these ISPs from blocking, speeding up or slowing down the transmission of content, or increasing costs to consumers by changing the pricing model that exists today.
The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) requires federal agencies to consider relevant comments as part of the NPRM by establishing a formal comment period and process for considering the opinions of people who would be affected by a new proposed rule. The FCC has come under intense scrutiny for its bungling of the comment process on this proposed rule. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has uncovered evidence that tens of thousands of New Yorkers may have had their identities used to file fake comments. Additionally, analysis by the Pew Research Center has found that only 3% of the comments received by the FCC definitively went through a verification process to ensure emailed comments came from legitimate accounts. This allowed many comments to be submitted using fake accounts. The analysis provides the example that over 7,500 comments came from the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Save Net Neutrality Act would simply prevent the FCC from relying on the NPRM process that will conclude with a final vote on December 14th. The bill refrains from making policy prescriptions, but instead invalidates the process that culminates in the creation of an enforceable rule authorized by the APA. Without the ability to rely on the rule, the FCC would have to start the NPRM process over from scratch.
The bill has been endorsed by the Free Press Action Fund.