New Bill Would Enshrine The FCC's Net Neutrality Rules Into Standalone Federal Law

from the ill-communication dept

This week House and Senate Democrats introduced new legislation that would formally enshrine net neutrality into law. The bill itself is only three pages long because it simply enshrines the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules into federal legislation, providing formal Congressional approval for the FCC’s 2015 effort to declare ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Telecom Act:

At a lengthy press conference (video here), unified Democrats made it very clear that net neutrality was going to be a cornerstone of the party’s platform through the foreseeable future and likely through the next Presidential election. They also noted that a full markup and hearings on the dual companion bills could be expected sometime in the next few weeks. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel lauded the new Congressional effort, rightly noting all the state and federal legal chaos the Pai FCC created in the wake of their factually-specious repeal:

“The FCC was on the wrong side of the law, the wrong side of history, and the wrong side of the American public when it rolled back net neutrality. The FCC?s deeply unpopular decision is being challenged in the courts, in statehouses, and in Congress. I applaud the effort announced today to reinstate open internet rules at the FCC. I?ll keep raising a ruckus to support net neutrality and I?m glad so many others are too.”

The problem for the Democrats, of course, is the immense success the telecom lobby has had at falsely framing net neutrality as a partisan issue. As a result, the bill may likely pass the House, but could very easily stall in the Senate. Even if it passes both houses, it would need to avoid a veto from Donald Trump, who has routinely opposed net neutrality despite pretty clearly not having the slightest idea what it actually is.

Survey after survey has shown that a bipartisan majority of Americans supported the rules and opposed the repeal. But ISP lobbyists work hard to encourage and inflame a partisan divide that shouldn’t exist on this subject (the quest for a healthier, competitive internet free of monopoly abuse). This results in a stupid partisan split in Congress with Democrats generally in favor of the idea, and Republicans staunchly opposed –usually under the (false) idea that net neutrality is draconian government over-reach.

In reality, net neutrality violations are just a symptom of monopoly power and the limited competition in broadband, subjects both parties have done a piss-poor job of addressing thanks to lobbying. In the absence of real competition, net neutrality rules are at least some basic safeguards to prevent giants like AT&T and Comcast from using their broadband monopolies to unfairly saddle and disadvantage competitors (despite industry claims this is a theoretical concern, it’s something that’s already happening).

Unsurprisingly, the Pai FCC was quick to issue a statement lambasting the proposal. The statement itself is a greatest hits of false Pai FCC claims to date, including the ongoing suggestion that the internet is seeing incredible growth thanks to their extremely unpopular decision to gut broadband consumer protections:

“The FCC?s return in 2017 to the bipartisan, light-touch approach to Internet regulation has been a success. This time-tested framework has preserved the free and open Internet. It has promoted transparency in order to better inform consumer choice. It has unleashed private investment, resulting in more fiber being deployed in 2018 than any year before and download speeds increasing by an astounding 36%. And it has proven wrong the many hysterical predictions of doom from 2017, most notably the fantasy that market-based regulation would bring about ?the end of the Internet as we know it.? The Internet in America today is free and vibrant, and the main thing it needs to be saved from is heavy-handed regulation from the 1930s.”

We’ve already discussed at length how these claims are bunk. One, the “record” fiber growth Pai’s FCC tries to credit for killing net neutrality was actually courtesy of fiber build-out requirements affixed to the AT&T DirecTV merger by the previous FCC (rather the opposite of less regulation). Two, the speed data the FCC uses was only current as of the end of 2017. Net neutrality rules weren’t repealed until June of 2018, meaning this growth occurred while net neutrality was technically active. It’s stuff like this that showcases why so many have a hard time taking the Pai FCC seriously.

Should this latest legislative gambit fail in the Senate or face Trump veto, the rules still have a shot at being restored via the ongoing lawsuit against the FCC. Should both fail, it will fall on the shoulders of voters to eject Luddite or cash-compromised lawmakers from both parties who prioritize protecting monopoly revenues over consumer welfare and the heath of the internet. At the very least, this looming vote should provide voters with a pretty clear 2020 scorecard as to which lawmakers actually have their backs when it comes to protecting an open and competitive internet.

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Comments on “New Bill Would Enshrine The FCC's Net Neutrality Rules Into Standalone Federal Law”

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James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That would be very hard. The bill very simply rescinds the 2017 order and restores the 2015 order. Removing the legal language, it says the 2017 order is repealed, the FCC is barred from re-implementing the order without a new law passed by congress, and the 2015 order is restored in full.

That’s all it says. Without the double spacing and the massive header, It might fit on one page.

Anonymous Coward says:


S.682 – A bill to restore the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order and its net neutrality protections.

Summary: S.682 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)

A summary is in progress.

Text: S.682 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)

As of 03/07/2019 text has not been received for S.682 – A bill to restore the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order and its net neutrality protections.

Bills are generally sent to the Library of Congress from GPO, the Government Publishing Office, a day or two after they are introduced on the floor of the House or Senate. Delays can occur when there are a large number of bills to prepare or when a very large bill has to be printed.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: S.682

A comment with the bill number (a valuable piece of information, to be sure) as the subject is useful. But you did not make clear that your intent was just to provide this information in your comment. The body of your comment should express the intent of your comment. I (having not realized the bill number was in question) was left wondering what point you were making by permanently quoting that didn’t know the content of the bill.

As I say, perhaps just a simple comment noting that you had the bill number, what the bill number was, and listing the links to would have served that purpose better. Something like: now lists the bill as S.682. Here are the links to the S.682 Summary and the S.682 Text. No information is yet available because it is a new bill.

Your quotes of the content of those links does not serve to inform anyone of your intent or any valuable information, and therefore confuses the purpose of your comment. You are correct, that number is valuable for organization. But the purpose, the point of the comment, to share that information was not made clear. The bulk of your comment was dedicated to quoting so I assumed the quotation was the important part of your comment.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 S.682

My initial question was "what is the point of this comment?", meaning "what is the message this comment means to express?". The commentor responded how I would better express a comment whose purpose was to list a bill number and nothing more. I answered and explained my answer. I am sorry that explaining why I would do things differently is to pedantic for you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 S.682

Your quotes of the content of those links does not serve to inform anyone of your intent

I understand you do not approve that communication style.

Do you have a technical backgroung, btw? Out of curiosity, ’cause I’ve occassionally noticed strongly judgmental stances on that communication modality from people who can’t do math.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 S.682

My degree is in Accounting. My hobby is programming in C, C# and Objective C. I am a percussionist, and studied mathematics through multivariable Calculus.

So I think I have a technical background and can do math?

My core issue with your original post was that you buried the lede. If a reader had failed to notice that the bill number was not referenced (and likely wasn’t known at the time of writing) in the article or supporting documents, it would be hard to identify the new information you provide.

Jake The Peg with my extra leg (British song) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 S.682

My core issue with your original post was that you buried the lede.

Well, not for me: I got the point in a glance.

Now, below I note that you Techdirt fanboys are ALL so accustomed to attack anyone who even appears reasonable that YOU provide a HOOT for ME, and more as go on — so please do! Fill the site with your USELESS off-topic comments.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 S.682

So because YOU understand it, doesn’t mean everyone understands it. That is my whole point. Nothing in my messages attack you. And your assumption that I should understand everything you post without fail despite that you have, in this thread, expressed disdain for frustration that you failed to use a mode of communication in which you clearly state your intent, is not ‘reasonable’. If you are upset that people ‘attack’ you for opinions you don’t hold when you expressly do not seek to ensure that everyone understands the intent of your commentary, you only have yourself to blame.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Do tell us more!

You have to have and project a crazy amount of self-confidence to get anywhere in politics.

I post as AC ’cause I got myself “internet famous” back in the day when we still noticed that people who got “internet famous” often tended not to accomplish that much in ‘real life’. It was a sense we all had — the ‘net wasn’t really ‘real’. So I figured I might want accomplish a thing or two in “real life”. Went anon and haven’t looked back too hard on that decision then.

Anyhow, you have to have and project a crazy amount of self-confidence to get anywhere in politics.

Jake The Peg with my extra leg (British song) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 internecine warfare at Techdirt

I’ve gotten bills through Republican Congresses before, myself

The first AC — if read all — is clearly in favor of the bill and chides "Thad" for defeatism. My guess from tone of first AC is that can certainly write formally and influentially and has a bit of sense — but another AC goes into knee-jerk attack at apparent dissent:

Your sense of self-importance is amazing. Do tell us more!

And that’s what now makes Techdirt so great for the real dissenters. You’ve ALL become so accustomed to one-liner snark that turning to attack is automatic, as "Thad" does too.

Wasting your time here, first AC. The fanboys are to stage where JUST writing reasonably is cause for attack!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 internecine warfare at Techdirt

You’ve ALL become so accustomed to one-liner snark

As opposed to your multiliner snark attacks? Come on, seriously. Are you that blind to your own actions?

What you think of as reasonable most others see as childish, baseless rants and attacks. Almost everything you post is an attack on someone or something, usually aimed squarely at this site and its readers. And you wonder why most never bother to give you more than a moment, just long enough to scoff at you. I’ve already wasted more time on you than you’re worth.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 internecine warfare at Techdirt

Oh, blue. You’re so triggered when you’re jealous one might pass it off as adorable.

Jhon Sanford Smith actually gives me material to work with. Debunking his history of writing an e-book, selling it with merchandise he himself admitted was overpriced garbage, somehow having his mailing list stolen by someone too powerful to sue, then picked up by patrons who pay him to harass this site and somehow not get his mailing list back – now that was an epic smackdown.

You don’t merit that much because you provide as much substance as an Instagram tweet beyond your obvious obsessive distaste.

You’re lucky that Paul Hansmeier isn’t getting sentenced this month because the tears you’d shed would solve the Sahara’s drought crisis…

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Given the Admin. Procedures Act attempt to block the FCC repeal failed, and only barely passed the senate when republicans had a narrow majority, the likelyhood of getting not only enough votes in Senate with a larger majority to get it to the president’s desk, but also override the Veto we would expect given his previous statements is low. This assumes Mitch McConnell would let the bill get a vote, given his refusal to send anything to the president that the president would veto and his own outspoken antagonism to Net Neutrality.

I support the bill. I don’t need to convince my representatives who all signed on to this, and even if I did, they are unlikely to be polling public support and determining their position by looking if people commenting on an opinion blog think it will get through congress.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Right. The Senate already voted to restore NN last year. It passed with only 3 Republican votes (Collins, Murkowski, and Kennedy).

The Democrats lost two seats in November’s elections, so those three Republican votes are no longer enough to get a majority. 45 Democrats + 2 independents + 3 Republicans = 50 votes. Pence breaks the tie.

Except it won’t even get there, because you need 60 votes to break a filibuster.

And it won’t even get there, because Mitch McConnell gets to decide what bills even come to the floor. (He couldn’t stop last year’s vote because it was a CRA resolution; the Majority Leader can’t block those from coming up for a vote. But the Democrats can’t introduce it as a resolution under the CRA this time; the time limit has run out.)

And of course even if it passed, Trump could still veto it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s always good to call your senators and put pressure on them. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from doing that; by all means, call your senators and tell them you support this bill.

But I find it very unlikely it’s going to pass. And I don’t think the Democrats expect it to pass, either; this is symbolic (like all the times Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act when Obama was president); it’s something they can use in campaign ads next year.

And the way I figure it, if it’s symbolic anyway, they might as well go all-in and give us a better NN proposal than the one we had before.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Why? Because Thad opposes the bill?

Er, no, because the guy who gets to decide what legislation gets to the Senate floor is the same person who nominated Ajit Pai to be head of the FCC.

I’m not sure where you got the idea that I oppose the bill. Just because I don’t think it goes far enough doesn’t mean I oppose it. Why would you assume that I oppose a bill just because I don’t think it’s perfect? Is that your approach to supporting or opposing legislation? Because I gotta say, that’s pretty counterproductive, dude.

And even if I did oppose it…what? "It’s not going to pass because I oppose it"? That doesn’t make any sense. The Senate passes legislation I oppose all the time.

In conclusion: what the fuck are you talking about?

Jake The Peg with my extra leg (British song) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Keep at it, "Thad"! Fascinating.

But it can’t possibly be what you meant by "Why? Because Thad opposes the bill?"

You’re greatly improving everyone’s interest in the site with off-topic back and forth cattly little drivel. Please continue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Keep at it, "Thad"! Fascinating.

In your own words:

And that’s what now makes Techdirt so great for the real dissenters. You’ve ALL become so accustomed to one-liner snark that turning to attack is automatic, as "Thad" does too.

Wasting your time here, first AC. The fanboys are to stage where JUST writing reasonably is cause for attack!

That’d post was entirely reasonable. Yours was nothing more than a 1-liner attack.

Grow up.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Er, no, because the guy who gets to decide what legislation gets to the Senate floor is the same person who nominated Ajit Pai to be head of the FCC.

Unless Wikipedia and I are mistaken, the President appoints FCC commissioners and designates one of them to be chairman. The Senate majority leader decides what bills go to the Senate floor.

Anonymous Coward says:

Democrats in the House keep existing under the delusion that they passed a new bill for net neutrality. What that ignorant witch Nancy Pelosi fails to realize is that even if the House passes it, it still needs to clear the Senate. Nancy Pelosi is not the majority leader in the Senate. Even if it did manage to pass in the Senate (which it will never do), President Trump would never sign it.

Democrats never think three movies ahead, they only think in the present. Even if Trump wanted to sign it into law, he simply would not do it now since Democrats stonewalled him on border wall funding. Now? Trump is going to actively veto any bill that has majority Democrat support.

Just what the hell did Democrats think would happen? That they could shit all over Trump on border wall funding and that it wouldn’t come back to bite them in the ass? Quite frankly, they are getting exactly what they deserve. No more, no less.

I guess Pelosi and her gang of Democrats should have given Trump the border wall funding he originally asked for. Guaranteed that when the elections come around in 2020, that Trump will still be in the White House, re-elected, and that Democrats will lose control of the House again (for Ocasio Cortez’s campaign fraud in hiding $2 million dollars of campaign contributions and for killing a plan to bring 25,000 – 40,000 jobs to New York City).

Yeah, they may have the House now, but, don’t expect it to be an easy ride for them since Trump has the power to veto every bill they put on Trump’s desk and that they would need the Senate to over-ride his veto.

Yeah, this shit ain’t ever going to happen and the Democrats don’t have any more cards to play. In order to get immigration reform and Net Neutrality, they’re going to have to (dare I say it) negotiate with Trump. Democrats don’t have any other leverage over Trump and he knows it. Remember, Trump can shut down the government again, this time for even longer.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"They are absolutely petrified of her."

What’s amazing is that this is the only reason anyone’s heard of her. She’d just be another anonymous freshman congressperson with little power or recognition for another decade under normal circumstances. Someone who won a notable election victory, but then would largely disappear until she did something else notable or brought something significant to the floor.

But, the right-wing fear machine have ensured that she not only has name recognition on the other side of the planet, her ideas are being listened to and considered more seriously than if they hadn’t said a word. I understand they need another boogeyman now that Clinton’s out of the running and it’s hard to pass up the full bingo card of a Millennial minority female New York Progressive, but pretty much anything she achieves from now on is going to be due partly to all the extra attention they’re giving her.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Let's make it official shall we?

I suspect that this is largely a political move rather than something that’s expected to succeed, however given what I suspect it’s meant to accomplish(and the off chance that it’ll actually work) I’d still support it.

By putting this up to vote the democrats make clear that they support the rules that Pai gutted, and if the republicans vote against it that can then be used against them come next election, likewise if they simply refuse to touch it. In doing this the democrats are forcing the republicans to make an on-the-record statement about their actual position on the subject, rather than just empty claims that can be promptly ignored, and given that among the public network neutrality has strong support from both parties, coming out demonstrably against it can very easily be used against them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Seems Pai went to show his lies more blatantly…

The end of his quote: "The Internet in America today is free and vibrant, and the main thing it needs to be saved from is heavy-handed regulation from the 1930s."

The date, 1930s.

The first working prototype of what would eventually be the internet was ARPANET. That was in the 1960s.

Even then… TCP and IP protocols weren’t adopted until 1983 and the World Wide Web wasn’t created until the 1990s.

So from that knowledge we have three possibilities (ignoring lying cause he can, of course.)

  • He’s exaggerating (which doesn’t look good on him given the circumstances)
  • He made a typo (which still doesn’t looks good on him as it makes him look ignorant of both changes in the laws regarding the internet and the fundamental changes of the internet itself).
  • He has a view of reality that never actually existed (which doesn’t look good on him for obvious reasons).
ECA (profile) says:


WE are paying for this fight…
Both sides are using OUR MONEY.. to fight this.
Corps by over pricing goods/services…and the Gov. by the wages we pay as well as the Pay-off they Get from the Corp, is ALL OUR MONEY..

In the end, corps are forcing the prices of STUFF, up so high, that the small companies Cant join and compete.. they are making things so proprietary, that you cant use the Old easy working devices to make things work.. Like the cable corps. and set-top boxes..

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re: Understand..

This from an AC..
I am on disability, and trying to buy food. trying to pay rent, trying to ???? what ever.
And any money that goes to certain companies eneds up Fighting ME and the people.
Pay corps to eliminate regulatory laws?? Just cause I–
Watch TV
Watch cable
Use toilet paper
And 10000 other things we do, to survive, Pay into the corps pockets.. And every cent they give to our rep’s..ends up Fighting US.. And since they Gave away money, they need to replace it, by raising prices.

This with the understanding that WE ARE PAYING THE REPS to support us, to help us, to gain knowledge enough to KNOW what they are talking about, so we dont have to.
But, when we can see the problem and We understand the situation…Why in hell are they Not supporting US..even in the simple things..

In the background the big corps are forcing Tech. making certain Certain that the little guy cant join in hte group. The requirements tend to be High price’d tech, like cable boxes, and New routers and modems. And there are other things. the USA has the highest prices in the world for base materials.. Wool/cotton/metals/wood/ are more expensive here then shipping them to anther country 3000 miles away and having things built THERE, and sending it back.. Is shipping that cheap? That a 1-2 month round trip is cheaper then building it in the USA?? And even the Fuel/oil industry will tell you Why they use fosil fuels…ITS CHEAP..

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