Provided by Congresswoman Doris Matsui’s office:

Senator Leahy and Congresswoman Matsui Reintroduce Landmark Net Neutrality Legislation

The Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act would protect consumers, prevent a two-tiered Internet system

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), member of the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee, on Wednesday reintroduced bicameral legislation to require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ban so-called “paid prioritization” agreements between a broadband provider and a content provider.  Reintroduction of the legislation comes as the FCC prepares to approve updated open Internet rules in February.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui - CA Dist. 6

Congresswoman Doris Matsui – CA Dist. 6

The Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act, which Leahy and Matsui first introduced together last year, would help prevent the creation of a two-tiered Internet system, ensuring start-ups and entrepreneurs have access to the marketplace and ensuring consumers can access all content equally. Nearly 4 million Americans wrote to the FCC last year in support of a free and open Internet and against a two-tiered system.

“The Internet must be a platform for free expression and innovation, and a place where the best ideas and services can reach consumers based on merit rather than based on a financial relationship with a broadband provider,” said Senator Leahy, who chaired two hearings on the issue of net neutrality last year. “The Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act would protect consumers and sets out important policy positions that the FCC should adopt in its current consideration of open Internet rules.”

“Our economy and the Internet ecosystem cannot afford ‘pay for priority’ schemes or Internet fast lanes.  Paid prioritization is simply a tax on innovation and consumer choice.  As the FCC develops rules of the road for the Internet, we must ensure there are no tolls, gatekeepers, or a two-tiered Internet system in this country.  The Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act would ban Internet fast lanes and preserve a truly free and open Internet for all Americans,” said Congresswoman Matsui, who chaired a net neutrality field hearing at the California State Capitol in her district of Sacramento last year.

The Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act would require the FCC to use its existing authority to prohibit paid prioritization agreements between Internet Service Providers (ISP) and content providers on the last mile Internet connection, the connection between the ISP and the consumer.  In addition, it would prohibit broadband providers from prioritizing or otherwise giving preferential treatment to its own last mile Internet traffic or the traffic of its affiliates over the traffic of others.

Cosponsors of the bill include Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Democratic Representatives Anna H. Eshoo, Raking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee (Calif.), Janice Schakowsky (Ill.), Michael Honda (Calif.), Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), Niki Tsongas (Mass.) and Mark Takano (Calif.).

A copy of the bill is available online.

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