“Consumer Choice in Online Video Act” to prevent ISP’s from throttling competing services like Netflix

senator jay rockefellerA bill submitted Tuesday to the Senate looks like it could address several concerns we netizens have regarding the future of digital media and our relationships with internet service providers.

The “Consumer Choice in Online Video Act” presented by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) would make it illegal for ISP’s to engage  “in unfair methods of competition or unfair or deceptive acts or practices” as it pertains to online video and other services.

Some feel there’s a conflict of interest when  company like Verizon for example, offers their own media service while maintaining the connection for competing services. Senator Rockefeller’s bill looks like it could  intersect Venn Diagram style with the FCC’s Open Internet order which Verizon is currently fighting in court. Verizon is arguing they have a first amendment right to knowingly degrade the connection for competitors utilizing their network. The FCC is claiming they have the authority to monitor and enforce net neutrality.

It’s very possible that Verizon might be able to successfully argue that the FCC does not have the authority to enforce net neutrality, so it looks like this Consumer Choice act could be a fall back position for those wanting to protect online services and competition. The bill would also include some helpful consumer additions like simpler clearer billing, more accurate usage monitoring for usage based billing and capped plans, and more support for antenna rental / online cable alternatives like Aereo.

While it’s great seeing some politicians step up to the plate on net neutrality, and this bill would certainly be better than allowing ISP’s to rig bandwidth in their favor, one has to wonder why we don’t see legislation explicitly granting the FCC the regulatory authority to protect consumer interests in this space.

You can read the full bill here (63 page PDF): Consumer Choice in Online Video Act

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