Senators Snowe and Dorgan issued their official release on the introduction of their Internet Freedom bill. Be sure to say thanks to them and to their cosponsors.
Here it is:
NEWS FROM SENATORS SNOWE, DORGAN
Friday, May 19, 2006
SNOWE, DORGAN INTRODUCE BILL TO PRESERVE INTERNET FREEDOM
Net Neutrality Bill Would Prevent Advent of Haves and Have-nots on the Web
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND), members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today introduced legislation that would preserve the open and democratic character of the Internet. The Internet Freedom Preservation Act would ensure that all content, applications and services are treated equally and fairly on the Internet by prohibiting broadband network operators from blocking, degrading, or prioritizing service on their networks. Rules to that effect were in place when the Federal Communications Commission reclassified broadband services, but the FCC neglected to adopt meaningful and enforceable safeguards.
"What has made the Internet such a remarkable success is the ability of people everywhere to experience a world of their own choosing on their own terms," said Snowe. "This freedom has fostered an unprecedented exchange of information and ideas that has led to an explosion in consumer choice, the creation of new businesses, and the spread of democratic ideals around the globe. Unfortunately, if Congress does not act, the age of digital democracy will come to an end. Senator Dorgan and I introduced the Internet Freedom Preservation Act to prevent fundamental changes to the internet that would undo the democratic principles upon which it was founded."
"The internet's open architecture allows access to the internet for everyone equally," said Senator Byron Dorgan. "That access has been the cornerstone of the internet's growth so far, and is vital to its continued success in the future. The Internet Freedom Preservation Act will ensure that the right to participate in the internet remains free and available to all, so that the innovation, economic opportunities, and consumer benefits it makes possible, will continue to flourish."
The Internet Freedom Preservation Act would amend the Communications Act to ensure that consumers and online businesses can use the Internet without interference from broadband service providers. Broadband service providers must operate the network in a nondiscriminatory manner, but otherwise may manage the network to, for example, protect the security of the network or offer different levels of broadband connections to users. Consumers must, however, have the option of purchasing a "standalone" broadband connection that is not bundled with cable, phone or VoIP service. Within 180 days of enactment, the FCC - which can issue monetary of other penalties for violations - must adopt rules for resolution of complaints within 90 days of their filing. The FCC also must report to Congress on the delivery of content, applications and services into and over broadband networks.
Earlier this year the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on net neutrality, examining the potential for broadband service providers to choose who can or cannot get priority service to the consumer, a discriminatory practice that could erode equal access on the internet. Consumers have an expectation that all websites and services will work equally well when they access the internet, just as they do when they make a phone call, but network operators have become increasingly interested in acting as gatekeepers on the internet and providing faster delivery for only certain information of their choosing.