The GOP Is Introducing More Fake Net Neutrality Bills

Adapted from an article by Dell Cameron, Feb 8, 2019 | Original Gizomodo article here


Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio leaves the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan on Capitol Hill in Washington

This Obvious Trick is Getting Very Old . . .

GOP lawmakers are preparing to introduce yet another piece of legislation that purports to restore net neutrality just a year after Republicans moved to dismantle it.

A supporter of the Federal Communication Commissions’ repeal of net neutrality, Rep. Bob Latta, a Republican of Ohio, is introducing H.R. 1001, described as "Amending Title I of the Communications Act to provide for internet openness, and for other purposes.”

While the final text of the bill is not currently available online, you can read the bill's discussion draft text here, or quoted below.

It appears that the text of this bill leaves gaping loopholes through which ISPs can climb to screw over their subscribers.

During a Communications & Technology subcommittee hearing on Thursday, GOP Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Greg Walden announced they were introducing similar bills.

Based on the title and statements during the hearing, Latta’s bill will seek to ensure that broadband access is permanently classified as an “information service” under the Communications Act; the purpose being to prevent the FCC from ever regaining the authority to hold ISPs to account under Title II. Notably, Latta tried this trick several years ago.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, another fierce opponent of net neutrality, also tried to pull a similar stunt last year and failed.

Free Press general counsel Matt Wood said:

“Despite what the new House minority claims, none of these bills would safeguard Net Neutrality or internet users’ rights. They would instead undermine the FCC’s ability to protect people online by removing broadband and wireless companies from nearly all agency oversight.”

The idea of Congress passing an in-name-only “net neutrality” law worries many of the policy’s chief supporters. By the time such a bill navigates its way to a vote, it’s unlikely to resemble anything close to the 2015 Open Internet Order, which first established federal net neutrality regulations.

To be clear: Republicans are introducing these bills not for the purpose of restoring the protections offered by net neutrality, but to cement under the law the ability of ISPs to violate it. A shoddy law passed by Congress that claims to promote “internet openness” would be infinitely more difficult to overturn than rules put forth by the FCC.

Blackburn’s fake “net neutrality” bill, for instance, would have allowed ISPs to move forward with the creation of so-called “fast lanes” (paid prioritization) while ensuring that state lawmakers would have no authority to pass their own laws to protect consumers. It’s the kind of bill that lawyers at Verizon and AT&T would have written — and who knows, maybe they did.

While Blackburn’s bill was total garbage, many headlines failed to reflect that. The Washington Post, for example, published an article titled: “Days after the FCC repealed its net neutrality rules, the GOP has a bill to replace them.” The last half of the article went on to describe the myriad ways in which the bill didn’t actually replace the net neutrality rules.

Latta's record shows that he does not support net neutrality. First of all, hedidn’t support the effort last year to restore the rules under the Congressional Review Act. And when the court upheld the Open Internet Order in 2016, he expressed his disappointment, and then spouted off a bunch of telecom-industry talking points about how the rules would hamper innovation and how the internet would become “less consumer-driven.” (Whatever that means.)

Latta wrote that he hoped the next court decision would “take into account the chilling effect that these rules will have on investment, competition, and innovation.”

It’s all BS. The 2015 order did not cripple or discourage investment. In fact . . .

  1. broadband industry investment actually dropped after the FCC, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, repealed the order.
  2. Verizon and AT&T employees are facing layoffs, despite historic tax cuts and no longer being held back by net neutrality’s “chilling effect.”

Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, said:

“This is just more of the same BS from Big Cable funded politicians. They’re being intentionally confusing by pushing weaksauce legislation that would undermine net neutrality while claiming to save it. All three of the lawmakers behind these bills essentially rubber-stamped Ajit Pai’s repeal of net neutrality, that should tell you everything you need to know about their true intentions. Instead, we need strong legislation that reinstates the FCC rules that never should have been repealed, and doesn’t leave loopholes for Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T to scam us and control what we see online.”

H.R. 1006

To amend Title I of the Communications Act of 1934 to provide for internet openness, and for other purposes.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled


This Act may be cited as the Open Internet Act of 2019.


Title I of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 7U.S.C. 151 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:



‘‘   (1) IN GENERAL. — To the extent that a person is engaged in the provision of broadband internet access service, such person —

‘‘      (A) shall not block lawful content, applications, or services, or prohibit the use of non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management;

‘‘      (B) shall not unjustly or unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful traffic over a consumer’s broadband internet access service; and

‘‘      (C) shall disclose accurate and relevant information in plain language regarding the price, performance, and network management practices of such person’s broadband internet access service sufficient —

‘‘         (i) for consumers to make informed choices regarding use of such service; and

‘‘         (ii) for content, application, service, and device providers to develop and market new internet offerings.

‘‘   (2) COMMISSION REQUIREMENTS. — The Commission may promulgate rules to implement paragraph (1)(C). Any such rules —

‘‘      (A) shall require, at a minimum, such person to display or provide links to the required information on an internet website and to update such information in a timely fashion to reflect material changes in the information subject to such paragraph; and

‘‘      (B) shall not require public disclosure of

‘‘         (i) competitively sensitive information

‘‘         (ii) information that would compromise network security; or

‘‘         (iii) information that would undermine the efficacy of reasonable network management practices.

‘‘   (3) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION. — For purposes of paragraph (1)(B), reasonable network management shall not be construed to be unjustly or unreasonably discriminatory.


‘‘   (1) COMMISSION AUTHORITY. — The Commission shall enforce the duties established in subsections (a)(1)(A) and (a)(1)(B) through adjudication of a complaint alleging that a service violates one or more of such duties. Nothing in this section limits the Commission’s authority to adopt procedures for the adjudication of a complaint, to adopt an order requiring compliance from an entity subject to a complaint, to initiate an enforcement action, or to issue a declaratory ruling or guidance.

‘‘   (2) INJUNCTIVE RELIEF AND PENALTIES.—If the Commission finds that a provider of broadband internet access service has violated any provision of subsection (a), the Commission may issue an order enjoining such violation, including interim injunctive relief. If the Commission finds that a provider of broadband internet access service has engaged in a willful and knowing violation of such subsection, the Commission may issue a fine or forfeiture of no more than $2,000,000 for any practice found to violate such subsection, consistent with the procedures in section 503. The Commission may not order the payment of damages for any violation of such subsection.

‘‘   (3) NO ADDITIONAL PRIVATE RIGHTS AUTHORIZED. — Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize any private right of action in court.


‘‘   (1) THE COMMISSION. — The Commission may not impose regulations on broadband internet access service or any component thereof under title II, except in the event that a provider of broadband internet access service elects to provide the transmission component of such service as a telecommunications service under such title. Except as expressly provided in this section, nothing in this section shall increase, reduce, or otherwise alter the Commission’s authority.

‘‘   (2) PROVIDERS. — Nothing in this section shall supersede any obligation or authorization a provider of broadband internet access service may have, or limit the provider’s ability, to address the needs of emergency communications, law enforcement, public safety, or national security, consistent with applicable law. Nothing in this section shall prohibit reasonable efforts by a provider of broadband internet access service to address copyright infringement or other unlawful activity.

‘‘   (3) SAVINGS CLAUSE.—Nothing in this section shall increase, reduce, or otherwise alter the anti-trust or other authorities of the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission. "(d) DEFINITIONS.—For purposes of this section:


‘‘      (A) IN GENERAL. — The term ‘broadband internet access service’ means a mass-market retail service by wire or radio that provides the capability to transmit data to and receive data from all or substantially all internet endpoints, including any capabilities that are incidental to and enable the operation of the communications service, but excluding dial-up internet access service.

‘‘      (B) FUNCTIONAL EQUIVALENT; EVASION. — The term includes any service that —

‘‘         (i) the Commission finds to be providing a functional equivalent of the service described in subparagraph (A); or

‘‘         (ii) is used to evade the protections set forth in this section.


‘‘      (A) IN GENERAL. — The term ‘reasonable network management’ means a network management practice that is appropriate and tailored to achieving a legitimate network management function, taking into account the particular network architecture or technology of the provider.

‘‘      (B) INCLUSIONS. — The term includes appropriate and tailored practices—

‘‘         (i) to reduce or mitigate the effects of congestion on a broadband internet access service provider’s network;

‘‘         (ii) to ensure network security or integrity;

‘‘         (iii) to address traffic that is harmful to or unwanted by—

‘‘            (I) users, including premises operators;

‘‘               (II) the provider’s network; or

‘‘               (III) the internet;

‘‘         (iv) to meet the needs of public safety; and

‘‘         (v) to provide services or capabilities consistent with a consumer’s choices regarding parental control or security capabilities.

‘‘      (C) CONSIDERATIONS. — In determining whether a network management practice is reasonable, the Commission shall consider technical requirements, standards, or best practices adopted by one or more independent, widely-recognized internet community governance initiatives or standard-setting organizations.’’