By Sara Jerome - 07/21/10 05:54 PM EDT
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) introduced a bill on Wednesday designed to block the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from imposing net neutrality and other regulations.
The Freedom for Consumer Choice Act (FCC Act) would force the commission to prove consumers are being harmed by lack of choice before it can impose new rules.
It would also force the FCC to weigh the potential cost of action against benefits while imposing a five-year sunset on FCC regulations. Rules can be renewed if they pass muster under a market-based standard.
Original co-sponsors will include Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and John Thune (R-S.D.).
“The FCC’s rush to take over the Internet is just the latest example of the need for fundamental reform to protect consumers,” DeMint said in a statement on Wednesday. “Congress must pass the FCC Act to protect consumer choice in media services, preserve competition that drives down costs and drives up options, and prevent the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs that the free market Internet economy has created.”
A statement from Hatch added, “Since the FCC has a hard time listening to the American people, we’re stepping forward with commonsense legislation to keep these unelected bureaucrats’ hands off the Internet.”
The FCC disputes it has any aspirations to “regulate the Internet.” Rather, its rules are designed to keep powerful Internet service providers in check, it says. Consumers might otherwise lack protections against the phone and cable companies that can control Internet traffic, it says.