Our political process is still struggling with technology’s rapid march, but a few Democrats are at least trying to repair the damage dealt to the Open Internet Oder by an Appeals court last month.
The saga so far: The FCC backs the OIO which would’ve put in place the authority to manage data networks almost like they do phone networks. It would’ve been a huge win for Net Neutrality advocates. Verizon sued them, claiming this would’ve infringed their First Amendment rights and that the FCC lacked the authority to handle broadband this way. The Appeals court sided with Verizon, stating that data networks are not “Common Carriers”, so the FCC can not regulate them. The court however left intact one element of the OIO in that if Verizon decides to unfairly degrade a competitor’s service or charge a competitor more for the same service, they at least have to disclose they are doing it.
Introduced by House Rep Henry Waxman, the Open Internet Preservation Act would restore the FCC’s ability to enforce regulation. Basically it’s a bill designed to puzzle piece back in the sections which the Appeals court cut out. It’s completely not surprising that Waxman is backing this bill, as he has a pretty solid record on consumer protection legislation. I used to live in his district here in California, and his staff is incredible at fielding concerns from his constituents.
While this bill is a very nice gesture, we’re just not seeing a lot of movement in the House at them moment, and it seems highly unlikely that enough Republicans will cross the aisle to support legislation granting more regulatory authority to a government commission. We also have to ask if we should start having conversations about declaring broadband networks common carriers to avoid future legal showdowns.
(Capitol Building pic Courtesy of Martin Falbisoner via Wiki)