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house Bill H.R. 2136

Preventing ISPs From Blocking or Throttling Content While Allowing Paid Prioritization

Argument in favor

This bill strikes an appropriate balance between ensuring that ISPs can’t block or throttle content on the internet while allowing for innovative services like paid prioritization to be attempted.

Argument opposed

This bill doesn’t go nearly far enough in terms of re-imposing net neutrality rules, as paid prioritization of content should not be allowed. States should be able to make their own open internet standards.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
    IntroducedApril 8th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 2136?

This bill — known as the Open Internet Preservation Act — would prohibit internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking legal content or services and from impairing or “throttling” internet traffic on the basis of content. ISPs would be allowed to offer specialized services (like paid prioritization) but couldn’t offer them in ways that threaten the meaningful availability of broadband internet or are designed to evade the prohibitions imposed by this bill. To achieve this, the bill would codify the new transparency requirements adopted by the FCC’s 2017 Internet Freedom Rule to promote internet openness and growth. 

Additionally, this bill would: 

  • Define reasonable network management practices to reduce or mitigate the effects of network congestion or quality;
  • Grant the FCC the authority to manage transparency and consumer protection rules; and
  • Preempt state law to ensure a uniform standard nationwide  

States and their political subdivisions would be prohibited from enforcing a law or rule related to internet openness obligations in providing broadband internet service, meaning that this federal law would preempt state law.

Broadband internet service would be considered an “information service” under Title II of the Communications Act, effectively blocking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from attempting to re-impose net neutrality rules in the same manner it did in 2015.

Impact

Internet users; ISPs; states; and the FCC.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2136

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to ensure the internet is a free and open space for consumers by outlawing blocking and throttling of internet content. In a press release upon introducing this bill, Rep. Smucker said: 

"The internet should be a free space. Commonsense regulation can be helpful and protect consumers, but oppressive federal strong-arming benefits no one, especially not the internet. When we encourage competition through the free market, we encourage business and individual growth as well as affordable, accessible internet for all Americans."

Last Congress, this bill was sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who tweeted the following regarding her bill to prohibit the blocking or throttling of internet traffic based on content while allowing paid prioritization:

“No blocking. No throttling. The Open Internet Preservation Act will ensure the internet is a free and open space. This legislation is simple, it provides light-touch regulation so companies can invest and innovate, and make sure our internet is up to 21st century standards.”

Net neutrality advocates have expressed opposition to this bill, with Fight for the Future’s Campaigns Director Evan Greer writing:

“This is not real net neutrality legislation. It’s a poorly disguised slap in the face of internet users from across the political spectrum. Blackburn’s bill would explicitly allow Internet providers to demand new fees from small businesses and Internet users, carving up the web into fast lanes and slow lanes.”

The Internet Association, a trade group comprising members including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Netflix, expressed its opposition to this bill last Congress, arguing that it didn't meet basic net neutrality protections

“The proposal… does not meet the criteria for basic net neutrality protections — including bright-line rules and a ban on paid prioritization... [It] will not provide consumers the protections they need to have guaranteed access to the entire internet. Net neutrality in name only is not enough to protect our economy or the millions of Americans that want and rely on these rules."

This bill doesn't have any cosponsors in the 116th Congress.

This legislation had the support of 41 Republican House cosponsors in the 115th Congress and didn't see committee action. A Senate companion bill, sponsored by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), didn't have any cosponsors and didn't see committee action.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: littlehenrabi / iStock)

AKA

Open Internet Preservation Act

Official Title

To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to ensure internet openness, to prohibit blocking of lawful content, applications, services, and non-harmful devices, to prohibit impairment or degradation of lawful internet traffic, to limit the authority of the Federal Communications Commission and to preempt State law with respect to internet openness obligations, to provide that broadband internet access service shall be considered to be an information service, and for other purposes.