[JURIST] US Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) [official website] said Wednesday that he has introduced a bill [press release; Markey summary, PDF] in Congress aimed at guaranteeing unfettered access to the Internet and limiting the ability of Internet providers to restrict users' access. Markey said that the Internet Freedom Preservation Act [HR 5353 materials] would ensure so-called "net neutrality:"
The open architecture nature of the Internet is baked into its "technological DNA" - it is what has ensured the Internet's place as the greatest "level playing field" ever created. At its core, the debate over Internet freedom is a battle about innovation and voices. For innovation, the Internet has no peer its ability to foster innovation and provide low barriers to entry for new ideas and businesses. As for voices, the Internet today is a wonderfully chaotic medium where voices both powerful and less powerful can be heard through the media mix. Individual citizens, civic groups, religious organizations, sporting clubs, trade associations, small business owners and others all have a stake in ensuring that broadband network providers keep their hands off the Internet and not degrade the ability of anybody to reach other citizens, to experiment and innovate, or to engage in free enterprise.The legislation, which would also require the Federal Communications Commission to conduct an assessment of broadband Internet services and consumer rights, currently sits before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and must be approved there before moving to the full House.
The goal of this bipartisan legislation is to assure consumers, content providers, and high tech innovators that the historic, open architecture nature of the Internet will be preserved and fostered. H.R. 5353 is designed to assess and promote Internet freedom for consumers and content providers. Internet freedom generally embodies the notion that consumers and content providers should be free to send, receive, access and use the lawful applications, content, and services of their choice on broadband networks, possess the effective right to attach and use non-harmful devices to use in conjunction with their broadband services, and that content providers not be subjected to unreasonably discriminatory practices by broadband network providers.
In 2006, the House Judiciary Committee approved [JURIST report] a net neutrality bill [HR 5417 materials] which would have applied federal antitrust law to alleged breaches of net neutrality, but the legislation was never approved by the full House. FTC Commissioner Deborah Platt Majoras [official profile] had opposed congressional efforts [JURIST report] to regulate net neutrality, saying that the free market will resolve the issue. Reuters has more.