The House Commerce Committee approved the ‘Save the Internet Act’, a bill that would fully reinstate the rules implemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015, reversing the repeal led by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in 2017. According to The Hill, Commerce Committee Republicans tried to introduce more than a dozen amendments that would weaken the bill, such as exempting all 5G wireless services and all multi-gigabit broadband services, and preventing the FCC from limiting the types of zero-rating that ISPs can deploy. Only a Democratic amendment of an one-year exemption for ISPs with 100 000 or fewer subscribers from the transparency rules was approved by the committee. The bill will be potentially voted in the full House next week. However, it will still face long odds in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, and the opposition of President Trump.
The Internet’s success lies in its design, which is based on the principle of net neutrality. From the outset, the flow of all the content on the Internet was treated without discrimination. New entrepreneurs did not need permission or market power to innovate on the Internet. With the development of new digital services, especially the ones consuming high bandwidth such as high-quality video streaming, some Internet operators (telecom companies and ISPs) started prioritising certain traffic – such as their own services or the services of their business partners – based on business needs and plans, justifying such an approach with a need to raise funds to further invest in the network. Net neutrality proponents strongly fight back such plans arguing this could limit open access to information and online freedoms, and stifle online innovation.