WASHINGTON — Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced legislation on Wednesday to prohibit internet providers from blocking or slowing content, in an effort to restore some of the net neutrality rules repealed by the FCC in December.
But activists say that his legislation, a companion to a bill proposed in the House by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), falls short in providing a set of robust rules of the road for the internet.
In fact, Kennedy has been the focus of efforts by activists and Senate Democrats to win a 51st vote for their plans to bring to the floor a resolution that would restore the FCC’s net neutrality regulations. The move would be made under the auspices of the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress the ability to reverse agency regulations within a certain time frame.
“Some cable companies and content providers aren’t going to be happy with this bill because it prohibits them from blocking and throttling web content,” Kennedy said in a statement.”They won’t be able to micromanage your web surfing or punish you for downloading 50 movies each month. This bill strikes a compromise that benefits the consumer.”
He added, “If the Democrats are serious about this issue and finding a permanent solution, then they should come to the table and work with me and Representative Blackburn on these bills. Does this bill resolve every issue in the net neutrality debate? No, it doesn’t. It’s not a silver bullet. But it’s a good start.”
Net neutrality advocates immediately seized on the fact that the legislation does not address the issue of “paid prioritization,” or the ability of internet providers to sell fast lanes and slow lanes of service.
Craig Aaron, CEO of the Free Press Action Fund, said “Kennedy’s bill defies the will of Louisianians on both sides of the political aisle, and suggests he was never seriously considering the facts about net neutrality, despite his claims in the press. Public support for real net neutrality is greater than it has ever been — and internet users won’t be fooled by half-measures or industry attempts to confuse the issue. They can see through this sham.”