On Wednesday, Congressional Democrats introduced the Save the Internet Act of 2019, legislation that would restore the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules about net neutrality that were enacted during Obama administration. The three-page bill does not so much introduce a new law as wipe out an existing order issued by FCC chief Ajit Pai back in December 2017, which effectively killed net neutrality.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all content equally, or as neutral, regardless of criteria that might cause an ISP to treat customers and content differently. Net neutrality is the same basic tenet on which public transit and telephone system operate—customers are all assured the same experience, no matter their location or equipment used. Net neutrality ensures that anyone with internet access will not have content blocked or experience slowed service. ISPs also can’t charge extra for specific content.
Forty-five Congressional representatives including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi co-signed the bill, with Pelosi saying, “With the Save the Internet Act, the Democrats are honoring the will of the people.”
When Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump, issued his 2017 order, he said that the FCC should not be in the business of “micromanaging business models and preemptively prohibiting services and applications and products that could be pro-competitive.”
But rolling back these consumer protections was unpopular, with 86% of Americans surveyed saying they opposed the repeal of net neutrality. Corporations such as web browser Mozilla also took the FCC to court over the legality of Pai’s 2017 regulatory changes, and California enacted its own net neutrality law in an attempt to cancel out federal regulations.