Three House Dems, three proposals for network neutrality. Here’s what they look like.

Author: Brian Fung
Coverage Type: analysis
Capitol Hill, NE and 1st Street, NE, Washington, DC, United States

Reps Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) each have shared network neutrality proposals with the Federal Communications Commission; here’s a look at them:

  • Rep Eshoo is urging the FCC to oversee Internet providers using Title II of the Communications Act — a move that would give the commission more latitude to prevent the sort of traffic discrimination net neutrality advocates say would hurt the open Internet. The FCC could selectively apply only those parts of the law that deal with reasonable rates and unjust discrimination -- what are known as Sections 201 and 202. The rest of the law, she said, could be waived under a process known as "forbearance."
  • Rep Lofgren also called for a mix of Title II and forbearance -- while leaning on another part of the law that could help the FCC make a stronger case for forbearance. In striking down much of the FCC's original net neutrality rules this year, a federal court granted the agency a little more authority under what's called Section 706. Some advocates have been pushing for the FCC to rely primarily on its Section 706 authority to draft the new regulations, but consumer groups argue that won't be enough.
  • Rep Waxman’s proposal also relies on Title II, but advances an alternative that waives the very provisions of the law that Rep Eshoo says are the most important -- the language against "unjust discrimination." This may sound counterintuitive, but Rep Waxman appears to agree with industry officials' arguments that the phrase "unjust discrimination" actually could still allow Internet fast lanes -- if broadband providers can claim that the discrimination is a "just" and reasonable practice. He is proposing regulating broadband under Title II, but waiving Sections 201 and 202, along with much of the rest of Title II. Rather than actually regulating the Internet providers using Title II requirements, the FCC would draw up new requirements based on Section 706.



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