Net Neutrality - Congressional Action To Keep Internet Access Fair And Equal

Allison Glatfelter, Senior Analyst Friday October 17th 2014

The term net neutrality refers to the belief that service providers and governments should treat all internet traffic equally and not prioritize some users’ data over others.  Supporters and opponents of net neutrality have had more than a decade of fierce debate over the concept. Internet access has become increasingly common across the United States the U.S. Census Department shows that in 2010 41.5% of Americans had home internet access in 2011 this increased to 71.7%. Currently in Congress there are 11 bills that address net neutrality.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released final rules for Preserving a Free and Open Internet in late 2010.  These rules were challenged by providers and on January 14, 2014 a District of Columbia Circuit Court ruled in the Verizon Communication Inc. v. FCC (2014) that the FCC has no authority to enforce Network Neutrality rules, as service providers are not identified as "common carriers.” However, the Court ruled that the FCC does have the authority to regulate the internet.

In a scramble to preserve the ability of the FCC to impose rules governing net neutrality the Democrats have introduced legislation in the House and Senate.  S.1981 Open Internet Preservation Act of 2014 and the H.R.3982 Open Internet Preservation Act of 2014 were both introduced on February 3, 2014.   Both of these bills aim to preserve the old rules struck down by a Court ruling until the FCC can craft new rules.  However, there is also legislation in Congress, H.R.4070 Internet Freedom Act, aimed at not allowing the FCC to issue new rules to govern the internet.  Net neutrality is an extremely complex issue that has been debated for more than a decade, no bill concerning this issue will move easily through Congress.  

While Congress failed to act on these bills in the 113th Congress, net neutrality will remain an important topic in the next Congress.

Full Listing of Net Neutrality Legislation

H.R.1685 Broadband Adoption Act Of 2013 https://www.votetocracy.com/bills/113/hr/1685/broadband-adoption-act-of-2013/overview

H.R.2739 Efficient Use Of Government Spectrum Act Of 2013 https://www.votetocracy.com/bills/113/hr/2739/efficient-use-of-government-spectrum-act-of-2013/overview

H.R.539 Federal Communications Commission Collaboration Act Of 2013 https://www.votetocracy.com/bills/113/hr/539/federal-communications-commission-collaboration-act-of-2013/overview

S.1379 Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act Of 2013 https://www.votetocracy.com/bills/113/s/1379/federal-communications-commission-consolidated-reporting-act-of-2013/overview

H.R.3675 Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act Of 2013 https://www.votetocracy.com/bills/113/hr/3675/federal-communications-commission-process-reform-act-of-2013/overview

S.1989 Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act Of 2014 https://www.votetocracy.com/bills/113/s/1989/federal-communications-commission-process-reform-act-of-2014/overview

H.R.4070 Internet Freedom Act https://www.votetocracy.com/bills/113/hr/4070/internet-freedom-act/overview

H.R.3982 Open Internet Preservation Act Of 2014 https://www.votetocracy.com/bills/113/hr/3982/open-internet-preservation-act-of-2014/overview

S.1981 Open Internet Preservation Act Of 2014 https://www.votetocracy.com/bills/113/s/1981/open-internet-preservation-act-of-2014/overview

H.R.3916 Promoting Rural Broadband Act Of 2014 https://www.votetocracy.com/bills/113/hr/3916/promoting-rural-broadband-act-of-2014/overview

S.1776 Rural Spectrum Accessibility Act Of 2013 https://www.votetocracy.com/bills/113/s/1776/rural-spectrum-accessibility-act-of-2013/overview

Internet Access Statistics: http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p20-569.pdf

Internet access has become increasingly common across the United States the U.S. Census Department shows that in 2010 41.5% of Americans had home internet access in 2011 this increased 71.7%. Currently in Congress there are 11 bills that address net neutrality.