This week Representative Marsha Blackburn introduced a the “Open Internet Preservation Act” in an effort to lock Trump/Pai repeal of Net Neutrality into law. Several major news outlets have taken Blackburn’s bait in suggesting this new OIP Act would bring Net Neutrality back after the FCC removed it. Said the Washington Post: “Days after the FCC repealed its net neutrality rules, the GOP has a bill to replace them.” Instead, this act would enshrine what the FCC did earlier this month.
The FCC removed their own authority from regulating the internet earlier this month just as they repealed Net Neutrality rules put in place by the previous FCC board. If the act introduced by Blackburn were put into law, as Ars Technica put it, “[The] FCC would be permanently barred from using Title II authority over broadband.”
This Act from Blackburn does several things. The list below is a simplification of what’s being suggested by Blackburn’s bill.
Open Internet Preservation Act Would:
• Block states from any law, rule, regulation, duty, requirement, standard, or other provision related to Net Neutrality*
• Leave Zero Rating legal
• Leave Paid Prioritization legal
• Reclassify Broadband Internet as an Information Service
• Block FCC from any Title II regulation of Broadband Internet
* State Attorneys General of a number of states have called on the FCC to hold the vote for this OIP Act. In a letter from the Department of Justice, the following Attorneys General signed to stop the OIP Act: California, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.
“as members of a democracy and duty-bound officers of our states, fraud in the democratic process rings a particularly discordant tone in our ears. The ‘Restore Internet Freedom’ proposal, also known as net neutrality rollback, WC Docket No. 17-108, has far-reaching implications for the everyday life of Americans,” said the DOJ. “It is essential that the Commission gets a full and accurate picture of how changes to net neutrality will affect the everyday lives of Americans before they can act on such sweeping policy changes.”
“The proposal circulated today does not meet the criteria for basic net neutrality protections—including bright-line rules and a ban on paid prioritization—and will not provide consumers the protections they need to have guaranteed access to the entire Internet,” said the Internet Association.
As outlined by TechDirt, Blackburn is in the pocket of two major companies that’d benefit HEAVILY from the passage of this bill: AT&T and Comcast.
“This is not real net neutrality legislation,” said Fight for the Future’s Campaigns Director Evan Greer. “It’s a poorly disguised slap in the face to Internet users from across the political spectrum. Blackburn’s bill would explicitly allow Internet providers to demand new fees from small businesses and Internet users, carving up the web into fast lanes and slow lanes.”
You can read the entirety of the proposed Blackburn act at DocumentCloud in PDF form now. Don’t be fooled by the floury language – and pay close attention to the rules that are missing. If the FCC repeal of Net Neutrality laws was like kicking a hornet nest, Blackburns bill is like saying the wasp problem is fixed when she only caught a couple in a jar.