Democrats Introduce Net Neutrality Reauthorization Bill

Eshoo, Waxman, Markey challenge Republicans on FCC rules.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., testifies before the House Financial Services Committee regarding Lehman Brothers and financial reform on April 20, 2010, in Washington, D.C.

The Open Internet Preservation Act, co-introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., would reinstate the FCC's net neutrality rules regarding Internet service providers. 

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Democratic leaders in the House and Senate on Monday introduced legislation to reinstate the the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules regulating Internet service providers, a move that likely will spur a standoff with Republicans fearing damage to the tech industry.

The Open Internet Preservation Act was introduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Henry Waxman, D-Calif. -- members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- with a companion bill introduced by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

[READ: Congress Ready For Net Neutrality Standoff]

A federal appeals court in January struck down the FCC’s rules preventing broadband providers from prioritizing the traffic of groups they favor and charging fees for premium access. The appeals court decided the FCC rules illegally treated broadband providers differently than common carriers, but the court supported the commission’s efforts to regulate the Internet.

With that in mind, the proposed legislation would reauthorize those rules while the FCC drafts a new version of the regulations, Eshoo said in a joint statement.  

“This bill ensures that consumers, not their Internet service provider, are in the driver’s seat when it comes to their online experience,” Eshoo said.

Co-sponsors of the legislation include Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Doris Matsui, D-Calif., along with Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Al Franken, D-Minn.

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“The Internet is an open marketplace where everyone can participate on equal footing,” Franken said in the statement. “And that’s the way it should be. The website of a Minnesota small business should load as quickly as the website of a large corporation.”

Net neutrality has been a dividing line between Democrats and Republicans, who generally agree Internet freedom is a good thing. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee, has said in the past that he would fight any legislation that would codify network neutrality rules.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., also has criticized the net neutrality rules, saying they granted too much power to regulators and had the potential to stifle the free market of the telecommunications industry.