Congressional Leaders Unveil Draft Legislation Ensuring Consumer Protections and Innovative Internet

Legislation to be the Focus of House and Senate Hearings Next Week

January 16, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – As part of the ongoing effort to achieve bipartisan consensus, leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today unveiled draft legislation to provide clear rules of the road for open and unfettered access to the Internet. The draft legislation guarantees that Internet users will continue to be the decision makers for the content they want, while ensuring that innovation and investment continue to fuel the robust future of the Internet. Most importantly, this legislation avoids lengthy court battles that would surely come from the FCC’s proposed action, bringing certainty to consumers and job creators alike for years to come.

“This thoughtful path forward ensures that consumers remain number one and in control of their online experience. By clearly outlining the appropriate rules of the road, and leaving twentieth century utility regulation behind, we can be sure that innovators continue full throttle in bringing remarkable new technologies to all Americans. This is the right solution that everyone, if they are serious in standing up for consumers, should be able to get behind,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) added, “This draft is one more step in our open and ongoing discussion about creating regulatory certainty for the Internet. By turning the FCC away from a heavy-handed and messy approach to regulating the Internet, this draft protects both consumers who rely on Internet services and innovators who create jobs. I look forward to continuing discussions about an alternative to controversial FCC action with my ranking member Sen. Bill Nelson and other colleagues on both sides of the aisle at our hearing on Wednesday.”

 “What Americans have asked for time and again is an open Internet that is fair to all and provides innovation from the bottom up. Our legislation gives consumers that protection and certainty while ensuring America will always be at the forefront of innovation as the global leader for this tool of 21st century economic growth and social connectivity,” added Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R- Ore.).  "By acting legislatively, we are putting forward a fresh, sustainable solution that accomplishes the goals we all share, without the needless trips to court that would jeopardize these core principles.”

The draft legislation is guided by the following eleven principles for bipartisan rules in the Internet Age.

  • Prohibit blocking
  • Prohibit throttling
  • Prohibit paid prioritization
  • Require transparency
  • Apply rules to both wireline and wireless
  • Allow for reasonable network management
  • Allow for specialized services
  • Protect consumer choice
  • Classify broadband Internet access as an information service under the Communications Act
  • Clarify that Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act may not be used as a grant of regulatory authority
  • Direct the FCC to enforce and abide by these principles

The legislation will be the focus of hearings on “Protecting the Internet and Consumers Through Congressional Action” in the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation next Wednesday, January 21st.