A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday announced they are calling for a review of the Federal Communications Commission’s rules that would prevent internet service providers from blocking, throttling or slowing down content online, or charging content providers to pay for preferential treatment.
The Senate HELP Committee has introduced legislation that would allow the commission to issue new rules to protect consumers, and to allow it to create new rules for the broadband industry to follow to protect free speech online, the lawmakers said in a joint statement.
The Federal Communications Commissioner, Ajit Pai, has taken a tougher stance on internet providers than his predecessor, former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Pai has pushed for rules that could limit how much internet providers can charge internet users for preferential access, a move that critics say would hurt internet users.
But while Pai has made a number of decisions to restrict internet providers’ ability to slow down or block websites, the Federal Trade Commission has not made any changes to its rules.
The Congressional Communications and Technology Committee said Wednesday it is considering the issue of net neutrality.
Pai and the Federal Communication Commission have had a fraught relationship.
Pai is the first Trump appointee to serve on the FCC, and the former telecom lobbyist has clashed with the agency’s chairman, Ajay Pai, who was appointed to his post by Trump.
Democrats and internet providers have been working to find a solution to the net neutrality problem, which they say is hurting the economy.
The FCC has been criticized for failing to implement rules to prevent internet providers from charging content companies to pay ISPs for preferential network access.
Pai’s proposal would require internet providers to notify customers when they see content they believe is blocking, slowing or otherwise slowing down traffic.
Internet providers would also be required to provide customers with a link to the website that is hosting the content, which is a first step in helping users understand what is blocking them and how they can stop it, the senators said.
The senators also said the FCC should allow internet service provider contracts to expire and allow for a period of time for companies to negotiate new contracts.
The net neutrality proposal is supported by many Internet service providers and advocacy groups.
The House and Senate HELP Committees are co-sponsoring the legislation, but it will not be voted on before the end of the month.