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Leaked House Net Neutrality Bill Shows Signs of Compromise

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA.)
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA.)

A leaked version of House Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman’s (D-Calif.) net neutrality bill strikes a compromise between the regulatory power of Federal Communications Commission and the power of telecom giants.

But like many compromises, it might anger both sides.

CNet lays out some of the key provisions of the bill:

  • The FCC will have two years to enforce “open net” guidelines, essentially keeping the Internet’s even playing field and forbidding providers from blocking competitors’ content
  • It will require broadband providers to be forthcoming to the public about their network management
  • It will focus on case-by-case decision making by the FCC instead of sweeping regulations

The bill would also stop FCC from reclassifying broadband under a provision that would allow greater FCC regulation.

In April, the Federal D.C. Court of Appeals ruled the agency lacked the official regulatory power to stop Comcast from thwarting peer-to-peer file-sharing site BitTorrent on its broadband network. Instead of seeking new legislative authority to regulate high-speed providers, FCC bypassed Congress and sought to re-categorize broadband under Title II, provision which gave the agency more authority.

But the Waxman bill, in a somewhat surprising turn of events, would stop this end run around Congress and the courts, much to the dismay of some advocates of net neutrality.

In “House net neutrality bill seeking Republican love,” The Washington Post posits the compromises in the Waxman bill were likely to attract Republican support.

But the limiting of FCC’s power also means leniency for big telecom companies, The Street reports.

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