WASHINGTON, January 25, 2011 – Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced legislation Tuesday to strengthen Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net-neutrality rules.
The Internet Freedom, Broadband Promotion, and Consumer Protection Act of 2011 is co-sponsored by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who, along with Cantwell, asserted that the Open Internet Order rules handed down by the agency last month are too weak.
Cantwell, who sits on the Communications, Technology and Internet Subcommittee, stated at the time that the FCC’s rules were not strong enough to ensure the Internet remains a source of innovation and economic growth. Critics contend the commission lacks the regulatory authority to implement the rules.
The bill comes at the same time that Republican lawmakers in congress are proposing legislation seeking to overturn the agency’s net neutrality regulations and Verizon is challenging them in court.
The legislation aims to increase consumer protection by requiring all charges, practices, classifications, and regulations related to broadband Internet access service meet a public interest “just and reasonable” standard.
The bill includes measures aimed at spurring broadband adoption by requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to offer standalone broadband Internet access at reasonable rates. It also includes provisions that would encourage larger ISPs to work with local providers to come to reasonable terms for management of networks, both wireline and wireless.
Cantwell’s legislation would also bar ISPs from charging content or application providers to prioritize their products.
“Without the strong protections provided by this bill,” said Cantwell in a press release Tuesday, “broadband Internet providers will likely favor their own or affiliated content.”